‘We Made It’ Zine Available to Download…

Ahoy! We Made It! Yes, I’ve written this blogpost before, but am flagging up the issue again because there’s fresh news. Fresh news is this: the first issue of the We Made It zine edited by Rembrand Le Compte is now available to download. Download it and you get the opportunity to enjoy an excellent anthology package anchored around the theme of ‘whales’. My secret history short story about Whale Caesar (Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus) is in there and if you’d like to read that, you’ll have to click on that link because We Made It is the only place it will be published. Esoteric mysteries do not make themselves conspicuous, y’know, and you have to make certain pledges if you wish to reach enlightenment…

And some more news: We Made It is now accepting submissions for issue 2 and the theme is ‘Fat Unicorns’. I’m determined to have a fat unicorn of my own creation in the zine so have already begun work on my masterplan and started consulting the arcane literature as research. Manifesting mythical creatures is something I’m very much interested in…

Anyhorn, We Made It #1 is there and available online for your reading pleasure. Enjoy…

The Working Barbarian Rises…

The Working Barbarian Rises again and so I doodled some timely fan-art…

Holy hot dragon halitosis! It returns! The great, bloody, sprawling, astonishingly-compelling fantasy epic is back! Oh, and the new season of Game of Thrones has started as well but, please, don’t talk about that. I have not the means to access this glorious thing until a later date and have appropriately erected my filters and advanced spoiler protection system (it’s a 700-foot high wall made of ice, stone and magic). Still, I’m not convinced that it’s strong enough so I may go into hiding and exile across myself the Narrow Sea, only to return when I’ve read the original books and allowed my dragons chance to mature. Yeah, maybe…

Anyway, to fantasy fiction I can talk about and that I am actually involved in – The Life and Times of the Working Barbarian. After a winter break, Saga-Father Magus John of Steele has declared its time to thaw out the tale and pick up the perishing plot threads. The crowdsourced collaborative adventure will continue and it will continue by bringing you the climactic boss battle we promised before the break.

You may have trouble remembering that or not remember it at all. In fact, you may not recall any of this or have any familiarity with this thing of which I speak and are now asking “Che cosa? What is this Working Barbarian? I am confused and clueless and do beseech thee! Enlighten me!” Okay, that I can do and that I have done. Before we proceed with the adventure, let us take you back with a brief catch-up-slash-primer…

You can, of course, get up to date with the story so far by reading each individual episode. If you lack the time and inclination, however, the recap-o-rama I wrote is a handy aid that’ll set you up nicely for the much-anticipated restart. I hope you enjoy it. Go forth and embrace the Barbarian adventure

The End of the ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ Parallel Dimension News Service… Again…

The Alternate Reality News has broadcast its final broadcast…

Meanwhile, in this reality…. the alternate reality news service I run hits a total of 222 daily bulletins. Hitting that number means The End. Fin. Skwaa’t, as the ice miners of Scorpius-Gliese 667Cd say at the end of every single hard shift (Unionise, guys. Unionise). Enough and no more. The Universe (as in ‘personification of cosmic consciousness’) of this Universe hath declared that it’s The End so, yes, I’m done.

I am done because there are no more news stories to elaborate on, for this recent Alternate Reality News run was an expanded edition to accompany the original ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ site. Recapping briefly, last August the James Clayton of a not-too-dissimilar parallel dimension experienced a timequake and was forced to relive the entire past year all over again. So he might do something useful with himself while living through the repeat, he decided to go through all the daily alternate reality news bulletins and provide additional details. I – James Clayton in this timestream – then duly typed up his reportage for the denizens of this reality. That’s why there’s no more – as I say, the original run of daily updates ended at 222.

So that’s that. Finito. I’ve had so much fun engaging with these alternate realities and I’m stepping away with feelings of ambivalence. I’ve got some more mental space to concentrate on other projects and responsibilities. I’m liberated from my rigid morning routine. At the same time, I’m going to miss my daily dose of far-out, otherworldly thinking ’cause engaging with alternate history and immersing yourself in fantastical possibilities and ‘imagine ifs’ is so much fun and essential for your mental wellbeing.

I will, thus, continue to look back in the direction of ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ in the future because it’s a treasure trove of material and ideas for creative writing. For now, though, I’m going to step back and have a moment of peace, taking satisfaction in what actually amounts to a pretty impressive achievement – that is, observing and fulfilling a self-made commitment to write material on a daily basis for no reward beyond my own absurdist enjoyment and the slight possibility that a few others might enjoy it too. It has been nice to see people responding well to what I’ve offered up and if you’ve read and shared, just know that I’m sending huge thanks and appreciative fist-bumps your way. Special thanks are due to a select bunch of cyberspace champions who’ve been especially supportive of my online activities – namely this Warlock, that Necromancer and the Bearded Charmer.

At some point down the line I’ll pull together a print collection of the Alternate Reality News to accompany – and surpass – the first newsletter edition. For now though, I need to find some solace and meditate on what this all means, what my purpose in life is and what I’m going to do to ease the epic void that has just opened up in my soul.

Oh, okay. The James Clayton of another alternate reality has just appeared in my mind’s eye and he has reassuring sweet words of wisdom. I’m off. So, is Alternate Reality News. Thank you for reading and good life…

*The quintessence swirls and warps, the cosmic weave dances and then sweeps all tangible and intangible matter into a hole that is nothing and everything and then everything is nothing and nothing is everything. Silence. Fade to black. Titles say ‘The End?’*

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Black Bella Donna’…

Time marches on and March is almost over so it’s high time I got the monthly Pictonaut short story challenge out of my system. It is now out of my system but first, the fundamentals. At the beginning of every month, the most rawksome Steeley John throws down the following challenge: “See this picture? Write a short story about it. You’ve got around 30 days. Do it.” I do do it, and I’ve duly done it this month. For March 2014′s challenge, Mr Steele selected the following photograph taken by an enigma named An Nguyen or Pournoirr

An evocative black-and-white photograph by An Nguyen…

Looking at this picture I got vibes and a drive to tell a certain type of story. This photo whispered to me and it whispered “Giallo“. The decor suggested Italy, the clothing suggested fashion and that also suggested Italy. There’s also something cinematic about this monochrome scenario and I felt stirrings of vintage art film in here. Hey, that also makes me think of Italy! Altogether, thoughts blended together and I came to the conclusion: “I want to dabble with something a bit sinister and tell a short tale that channels Giallo“. So that’s what I attempted to do, even though I’m in no way a great expert on Giallo – an Italian film and literature genre that revolves around crime, mystery and sometimes the supernatural. With films like Dario Argento‘s Profondo Rosso and Mario Bava‘s Blood and Black Lace on my mind, I set to work.

In the end, the various ideas I started typing up got rejected in favour of a different story and then they were subsequently also switched aside. Finally I stuck with a particular premise – partly influenced by the ethereal kitchen sink sci-fi art movie Under the Skin - and turned that into a rough ‘first draft blast’ short script. It’s the opening sequence of an imaginary film titled Black Bella Donna and, though it’s formatting ain’t quite proper, ideally it gives you a feel for what I’m picturing in my head and sets up some beguiling mystery. I hope you enjoy it or find it in some way interesting and perhaps, after reading, are intrigued to watch the rest of a vintage, arty chiller that doesn’t exist but if it did it would have been made on the cheap in Italy in 1974. You can read Black Bella Donna‘s opening here

The ‘We Made It’ Zine and the Secret History of Whale Caesar…

We Made It! Well, Rembrand Le Compte made it and put in the real effort of actually pitching and putting together a fresh collaborative creative project. Kudos, then, to Lord Rembo for his initiative and editorial effort because We Made It #1 is an excellent collection that contains superb material from an array of talented artists and writers.

The theme of the zine (the zine-theme) is whales and, because I really like sea creatures and alternate history, I offered up a piece of writing titled Whale Caesar. I figured that it was time to share the truth about the forgotten Roman Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus – a mighty and fascinating figure whose name was shamefully scrubbed from the chronicles. I’m just happy to have the chance to tell his story and to have my work included in the mix.

We Made It is a limited-run publication but there may be more copies available at some point in the future. There will definitely be more issues with different themes for artists to submit to and for further information please visit the website.

Here’s a photo giving you a hint of my whale-of-a-tale

‘Whale Caesar’ in the We Made It zine…

Alternate Reality News Newsletter Edition Hot Off the Press…

Here’s news, readers: in just under a fortnight, Meanwhile, in an alternate reality… Plus! will finish its run. The expanded, timequake edition of the parallel universe news service I started up in August 2012 will be hitting the 222 bulletins mark and that’s when the original ended its daily updates. There will therefore be no more alternate reality news updates for my timequake-affected different-dimension self to elaborate upon. Consequently, finito. I will reflect upon this and deal with all the ambivalent feelings in due time. (I’m going to have all the feelings when I have to let this source of endless enjoyment go again. Really, I love my alternate reality news and think I might need some grieving time.)

For now though, here’s some news related to the alternate reality news and, indeed, newspapers: you – yes you! – can now celebrate the soon-to-disappear service by getting your hands on a copy of the newsletter edition I cobbled together in the autumn. Newspaper Club – the  excellent print operation that enables people to print their own newspapers – have set up a new newsagent service. Regular folk can now, in effect, become minor newspaper barons and directly sell their publications online. Thus, the newsletter edition I knocked up is now available to buy for £3.50 in my own news store.

It’s only 4 pages long but it has value as a nice souvenir that fans of the blog can touch and smell. I don’t intend to stop with that short, experimental brand-extension exercise though, for I have further plans to produce more newspapers. I’ve got a lot of warm nostalgia for the age when I worked as a sub-editor on a university newspaper and probably enjoy print media more than online magazines and journals. Because I’m old-school like that and because making newspapers is fun I’ll be endeavouring to work up fresh print projects in the future (probably when I’m no longer distracted by the pressing affairs of alternate realities). Exciting things are on the horizon and will be available for you to purchase and hold in your hands and then use to line your kitty litter tray. In the meantime, enjoy ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ while its still here and, by all means, buy a copy of the first newsletter edition if you wish…

This man enjoys reading Alternate Reality News...

Alternate Reality News provides enjoyment, edification and enlightenment to readers…

Adele Dazeem and Flash Fiction Inspired by the Oscars…

The 86th Academy Awards ceremony happened the other night. As ever, the event was an odd affair that leaves me ambivalent. I like the celebration of cinema, the lauding of great movies and the heartfelt and inspiring speeches of humbled performers who deserve accolades. I don’t like the fact that – unlike the BAFTAs – the Oscars feel drawn out and, bizarrely enough, badly co-ordinated and stage-managed. There’s very little in the way of zip and energy. It’s a long trawl through awkward tumbleweed moments and a whole lot of self-awareness. All the hype and A-list glamour just adds to the peculiarity of the whole shebang. Of course, it gets even weirder when really odd stuff happens…

Ellen DeGeneres ordered some pizzas and took some selfies and I guess ‘Oscar host turns into a stereotypical 15-year-old’ is a bit unusual but, really, I’m not impressed. Matthew McConaughey’s full-on Southern preacher acceptance speech was way further out there but the stand-out weird moment of this year was undoubtedly John Travolta’s introduction of Idina Menzel ahead of her performance of “Let It Go” from Frozen. Travolta’s baffling mispronunciation spawned an online meme frenzy. Worse news: it inspired me to blast out some flash fiction in honour of Adele Dazeem. Here is that very short piece of writing for your consideration…

Academy Award Disappointment for Adele Dazeem

Her cell phone rings. She looks at the screen and sees Max’s fizzog. She doesn’t want to answer.

She really doesn’t want to answer.

She answers. Fuck it.

Yeah?

Adele! Honey! Hey, how ya doin’?

That sigh says it all, “honey”. Urgh.

Awwww, c’mon, hon… aaaaah, did you, ahhh, tune in?

She gulps. Yeah…

She said she wasn’t going to tune in.

She tuned in anyway.

So? he inquires, cautiously.

So… the sigh is heavier and soaked in sadness.

She’s hurting.

She’s hurting so bad.

She was good, huh? I mean, sure she’s Idina Menzel and she put on a good show but nowhere near what you’d-a brought to the party. I suppose folks are happy, what with her singin’ it in the movie an’ all but, hey, the whole shebang was a real drag, anyhow…

There is sorrow in the silence and, sensing it, he stops. Max figures himself as an empathetic guy. It’s why his clients like him, he tells himself.

Listen, Adele. Hon, sugar, it’s… it’s okay…

It’s not frickin’ okay, Max, she says choking back bitter tears, her tender eye stinging as she does so.

Well, what I mean, is ahhh, at least he still said your name! That’s somethin’ right? John Travolta said your name, honey!

It was my night, Max. It was my moment and that moment is gone. Forever.

Awwwww, there’ll be other times! You bet your last nickel there will! I can guarantee it!

No, Max. I’m not sure there will be and I don’t care anyway. I wanted my time to be last night and it was taken away from me.

Awww, sugar, these things happen. How is the eye, anyhow?

She’s too choked up to answer. Truth is it’s real bad. It’s swelled up terribly and the discharge is just gross. It’s hurting, but not as much as her pride.

Awww hell Adele! Damn that pink eye! I tell ya, it’s just the worst luck! The worst, worst luck, honey!

You’re tellin’ me, Max…

But, you know, it ain’t the end of the world, hon. You’re sick now but… you’ll get over it soon enough…

Okay, she’s heard enough.

Shit Max, don’t start with any of your ‘better luck next time’ crap ’cause I can’t take it now. I am sick, I am devastated and I’ve had the greatest moment of my life ruined by frickin’ conjunctivitis.

Hey hey, hon! Easy! I know it feels bad right now but, y’know, don’t get upset! Calm! Calm! Let it go…

Adele Dazeem hangs up and the tears stream and stream. The weeping will go on and on and the inflamed eyelid will carry on stinging like a bitch and the hurt will throb on forever.

Forever until she can let it go…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?’…

It’s time to tell a tale, and that tale is this month’s effort for the Pictonaut challenge. The nature of the challenge is this: every month the very excellent Sir John Steele picks an evocative image and throws down the gauntlet to writers. “See this picture? Write a thousand-word short story based on it. Alright?” Alright, it most definitely is and I duly give it a crack and see what I can come up with. What have we got to work with a February 2014′s image? This photograph taken by, it’s believed, Eric Peterson…

What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?

It’s a picture of a door in a forest. The key question that needles me: ‘What’s behind the door in the forest?‘ I couldn’t decide, so I decided to write a short fiction-bit about that question and spin a yarn with a slight fairytale-ish/olde folk storytelling edge to it. It’s no doubt influenced by my enthusiasm for fantasy, myths and legends and fond memories of my own grandfather. I don’t rate it much at all, as far as things go, but it is what it is and it’s always good writing exercise to have a go at the Pictonaut challenge. I was shooting for a freewheeling, simplistic oral legend feel and I think it works if you read it aloud in an elderly Eastern European accent. In fact, read everything aloud in that accent. Life is more fun when your internal monologue speaks with an exotic and/or ludicrous voice.

The positive thing I take from this month’s Pictonaut trip is that it’s got me looking forward to future adventures in the open outdoors when the bleak winter is behind us and the weather is not unbearable. As I look forward to that future, feel free to have a glance at ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?‘ and keep on opening doors in real life. If you don’t you won’t discover anything and you’ll be stuck in one room for eternity (both metaphorically and literally. You need to get out. Damn. I can’t wait for the weather to get better…)

Valentine’s Day, Lonely Hearts and Timely Tragic-Romantic Links…

The Little Lonely Heart on Valentine’s Day…

Hot damn! (or “damn hot, yes you are!”) It’s Valentine’s DayTo celebrate this I produced a few things related to V-Day, love and romance and put ‘em up on the internet. With love, I gave them to thee whoever ye be. They all went live this morning but I’m going to bring ‘em all together in a harmonious promo blogpost. I may get a little more love by doing this and really, as a lonely man on Valentine’s Day, I think I need some more love

*Sad face and silent, pathetic weeping…*

But, hey! Valentine’s Day! In an alternate reality, the censorious Cuban government has removed the erotic romance works of bisexual poet Jorge Ignacio Bello from the banned literature list so that’s nice. I also spent a lot of time doodling squigglies for the above sketch of the Little Lonely Heart while cranking the mushy mixtape of the most melancholy, most achey-breaky heart music I could find. I, of course, sang along. It was like beautiful meditative creative karaoke

The final, most vital thing though is this week’s Friday Den of Geek film column. In it I discuss Valentine’s Day, look ahead to seeing the Spike Jonze film Her on Valentine’s Day and then explore romance and love in the dehumanised 21st century. It gets very bleak but the really good news is that I did go and see Her today and found it to be a moving, transcendental experience. It’s beautiful in so many sublime ways and I urge people to see it if they get the opportunity.

That is all. I will now sign off with a bad Valentine’s Day poem and go and find something (nec)romantic to do. The spirits of a lot of passionate, beautiful-but-long-dead people are in the aether just waiting to be channelled, y’know…

I hope it’s not true,

That romance ain’t dead,

Violets are blue,

Roses are red.

I don’t think I understand conventional romance. Ah well. Happy Valentine’s Day… *mwah mwah mwahs…*

Frankenkittie and Film Columns on Frankenstein and Cats…

Oh meow, it’s alive, it’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!

This is Frankenkittie. He’s like Frankenweenie but he’s a dog and he’s not as amiable and affectionate and fronted his own movie yet. Cold-hearted composite cat corpse brought back to life by diabolical electric eel bath science magick? Hmmm. There might not be a multibillion dollar multimedia franchise in this critter after all…

Regardless, what Frankenkittie can do is act as a coherent tie-in to a couple of columns I’ve written for Den of Geek recently. They may be of interest to people who like cats and Frankenstein so I’ll plug them again here.

Last week’s article explored the undying popularity of the Frankenstein story and studied the psychological reasons for its resonance with audiences and repeated adaptation across various media forms. Comments section reviews: “Great article, thank you” and “I like these articles you do dog.

The week before’s article was all about cats and searched out great movie moggies while wondering if the star feline of Inside Llewyn Davis could shift my indifference to the species. Comments section review: “This article was so mind-numbingly trivial I actually physically felt my mind softly disconnect from my eyes about halfway through.”

Meow. Or woof, ’cause a commenter called me “dog” and I write for DoG and the comments section is more enthusiastic when I’m not writing about cats. Something like that. Anyway, they’re there to read and a fresh new column goes live every Friday. I will now finish this promo post and go back to drawing up plans for my next pretty-unoriginal, wholly-unnatural creation that may subsequently spawn a massive franchise of movies, comic books and fast-food chains. Fear the name, ‘Franken-Centaur’!

Hourly Comic Day, Slice of Life Chronicles from a Relatively Unexciting Saturday…

Yesterday it was the first day of February. Hey February! It’s the month of Pancake Day, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day and the NBA All-Star weekend. It’s also the month of Hourly Comic Day. That happens on the 1st of February. That was yesterday. Let’s go back to yesterday…

The objective of Hourly Comic Day is simple enough: every hour you’re awake and functioning you produce a comic to document your day. Slice-of-life diary comics on the fly. It’s a nice idea but I’ve never done it because: 1. My comic drawing skills are not up to much and my fingers can’t realise the awesome pictures in my mind, damn those digits; 2. It always seems that February 1st is an ultra-busy day where I couldn’t possibly squeeze in some sketching every single hour; 3. Diary comics are not my preferred brand of jam (as a later taste test described below will confirm).

(Un)fortunately enough, I’d set aside yesterday as a ‘Saturday where you have absolutely nothing to do except rest back at home off the back of some busy days and just get on with some writing having allocated extra space’. I could therefore fill the extra space with a few really crappy little comic panels jotted down on pink post-it notes. Oh, and then I was told I’d be making a curry for a family dinner so that ended up in the mix as well and added some extra spice to a comic chronicle that’s pretty mundane.

It was a challenging thing to do, and not because I had to knock something out every hour. What I found a bit difficult was the nature of diary comics: they’re naturally self-obsessed, solipsistic and prone to neurotic navel-gazing. I do not dig these things at all and try to avoid them, which is partly why I’m not really engaging with Twitter much at the moment. After drawing a few panels I started to realise that questions about how I represented myself and how I accounted for my time(wasting) were surfacing. This creative action was too consciously self-involved and introspective for my personal taste. The fact that I refer to myself in the third-person is pretty telling. As I say, my favourite jam would be different kinds of comics, though I can, have and do enjoy the autobiographical graphic works of certain artists. I think it depends on the individual person and the circumstances they’re depicting, but I do know that I’d personally rather produce far-fetched fictional than work up kitchen sink non-drama diary strips. Less narcissism, more fun, for sure.

What I’ve learned is that diary comics are definitely not going to be a regular thing, but it was still nice to have a crack at Hourly Comics Day. In spite of my feelings, you may find them intriguing or entertaining and I’m glad I participated this time around. Here’s the outcome of yesterday’s scrappy sketch activity: a run-through of my pretty unexciting day but, hey, it was a pretty good day…

Hourly Comics Day, Morning...

Hourly Comics Day, Morning…

Hourly Comics Day, Afternoon...

Hourly Comics Day, Afternoon…

Hourly Comics Day, Evening...

Hourly Comics Day, Evening…

Short Story: ‘Slow Night’…

Nice night for knocking out a short-story on-the-fly, off-the-cuff and in-the-moment, don’t you think?

I was feeling flash fiction. I was reading a Ray Bradbury interview. Altogether I was inspired to turn aside from other trivial pursuits for 10 minutes to blast out a very short story as an enjoyable writing exercise. No overthinking or processing out or heavy editing or procrastinating or anything else: just typing out a spontaneous tale, simple as.

Here is that very short spontaneous story: a blast of flash fiction called ‘Slow Night’ for your consideration as bedtime reading…

Slow Night

Slow night, he said.

Yes, he agreed.

And it was a slow night. He listened to the electric hum, barely alive but just about there holding up the emptiness. An ocean of ennui that just went on and on through which he would swim without moving a muscle.

To be in waves and feel the currents but yet the waves do not roll or move for the moons aren’t in orbit and the sea is so still. Those were his sensations on the slow night.

Up above the stars seemed to be sleeping. Blanketed by blackness, oh-so-forlorn up beyond the breathless air.

Would they twinkle or glimmer? They did not on the slow night.

Life in slow motion on this slow night.

He was on the watch, but what to watch? Lethargic, he just felt lost and futile on the slow night, uninspired and with nothing to do but maintain a watch where there was nothing to watch. He was listless, but yet no anxiety accompanied his languor. A strange peace flowed through tired joints, nerves, his biological machinery. The resigned malaise of being a man in slow motion on a slow night on the watch over the fields.

No crackles. No charges, surges or sparks. The fields rested lightless, the infinite coils comatose. The plant seemed abandoned but he knew that what it was not as it seemed on the slow night. Life was sleeping beneath the distant dome, dimmed to post-twilight setting. Energy-saving. Everything energy-saving and in hibernation state on the slow night.

All life around was sleeping. He was sure it was sleeping. He was sure all was asleep except himself.

Nothing except himself alive and awake and aware and holding on in spite of the slowness of the slow, slow night.

No transit tubes travelling. No discharges or flares crackling out of the generator fields. Just the soft electric hum, a prolonged pause. Just the languid slumbering stars. Just the distant dome of low lustre.

Just him. Slow night, he said.

Yes, he agreed in reply. A reply to himself, the slow night finally slowing him to a stop. His watch ended with a soft fading drift scored to the paused electric hum. Eyes closing, function halting and everything ceasing to be awash in the emptiness and entropy of the slow night.

Search Engine Adventures and Kit Harrington Fan Fiction…

Sometimes, search engines can take you strange places. One example: while researching ‘best Sean Bean deaths‘ recently I somehow ended up being directed to an excellent recipe for falafel. That’s not actually true but in the weird world of tags, SEO, promoted links, algorithmic sorcery and other things I don’t fully understand, it could happen.

Regardless, sometimes people put queries into search engines and end up on my site. Phrases that have led people here include “infinite golden sea“, “squiggly squid“, “things to do in clayton, nc” (sorry, I’m not a small town in North Carolina) and “german expressionism get from the faves“. There’s also “van dam robocop” (something relevant here) and “thinggs that will be big in 2014” (I got this) so it appears that I attract readers who can’t spell or are lazy when it comes to typing things into Google. I know I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to these things but really, it’s disrespectful to misspell ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme’. Tssk…

Anyway, the only ‘search engine terms that have sent people here’ on my WordPress dashboard at the moment is an interesting, intriguing one. Someone (Hey you, whoever you are!) arrived on my site after Googling “kit harington fan fiction tumblr“. This isn’t a Tumblr site, nor is Kit Harrington spelled with only one ‘R’. There is also no Kit Harrington fan fiction on this website so I fear that somewhere out there there’s a very disappointed individual.

I feel bad about this – both because of my contribution to someone’s disappointment and the dearth of Kit Harrington fan fiction around here. I need to rectify this. Thus, I decided to write some Kit Harrington fan-fiction so that my main website has some and so that the people get exactly what they want from the internet. Ask and you shall receive, because I’m generous like that and just want to make people happy. Here is the Kit Harrington fan fiction, especially for you…

Search Engine Adventures with Kit Harrington

It was a cold day on the Game of Thrones set. It was a cold day every day on the Game of Thrones set. Kit Harrington – the young actor who plays Jon Snow the Northern bastard – was holed up in his trailer, keeping himself warm. He was also trying to keep himself entertained.

Kit Harrington was bored. Bad lighting had meant a delay in that day’s shooting. He’d been sat there for hours, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the call. Iceland’s weather wasn’t being supportive today. The wait to start shooting again went on and on and on and on.

Kit Harrington had had a nap. He’d done some crunches. He’d made a cup of peppermint tea. He’d called his agent to check in and have a chat for a couple of hours. He’d re-read George R.R. Martin’s entire bibliography. Still, the call didn’t come. Kit Harrington’s patience was wearing very thin.

Desperate for a new distraction to pass the time, Kit Harrington flipped open his laptop and turned it on. It made a warm welcoming noise as it booted up. He opened the browser and started to enter random search terms into Google for kicks. ‘Joffrey slap‘ got tedious after a while and ‘beautiful horse photos‘, ‘bastard etymology‘, ‘what time is it in Winterfell?‘ and ‘is anybody there?‘ failed to raise him out of his ennui.

Now listless and descending into the lowest of low ebbs, Kit Harrington typed out his name. He was loath to Google himself for that way lies madness and tremendous hurt. Nevertheless, impulsively deciding that he’d exhausted all other options Kit Harrington went ahead and did the unthinkable. As his eyes alighted on his own name appearing on the screen he felt a sublime streak of masochistic curiosity surging in his breast. He figured he might as well do the even more unthinkable. He added the words’ fan fiction‘, a wicked smile flashing across his face. Then Kit Harrington pressed enter.

The search engine responded with a ream of promising hits signposted with hyperlinks. Without hesitating, Kit Harrington clicked the first link. It was the personal website of some hack writer and the top post was a story about Kit Harrington. Kit Harrington started to read it. In the story Kit Harrington was bored and decided to tap ‘Kit Harrington fan fiction’ into a search engine in order to amuse himself.

Kit Harrington felt considerable unease and confusion.

Kit Harrington/Jon Snow: “…”

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon’…

It’s time for an imaginative challenge. (It’s always time for an imaginative challenge. In fact, time is an imaginative challenge.) Every month, crack dance-commando John Steele (he has a war face and makes us dance and, thus, he’s a dance commando) calls us to action and sets up a fresh Pictonaut challenge. The objective: write around a thousand words of fiction inspired by a particular image of his choosing. I get a kick out of this exercise so I always make sure I come up with something. I recommend it. It’s fun and provides an opportunity to creatively experiment and engage with a challenge with built-in limits or requirements to meet (which I kind of ignore, ’cause I dance freestyle, totally to the syncopated beat of my own drum. I’m sorry, Dance Commando. Please school me and bring me back into line…).

The inspiral moodpiece for January 2014′s Pictonaut is this image by German artist Cornelius Dämmrich and it’s titled ‘Mercury‘…

‘Mercury’ by Cornelius Dämmrich…

I see this picture and am several shades of excited because this picture spells sci-fi. I love sci-fi. I get high – nay, stratospheric – on sci-fi. Furthermore, extra cosmic stimulus has come from watching BBC Stargazing LIVE and reading The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester over the past week. I’m in a very science fiction state of mind and have also been in the scriptwriting mood lately so knocked up this month’s Pictonaut piece as a dialogue. The image suggested scenarios and characters soon followed. Relocating to the Mimas moon of Saturn – because Mercury isn’t very hospitable and because Cassini mission leader Carolyn Porco‘s discussions of Saturn’s rings on Stargazing LIVE intrigued me – I came up with ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon‘. You can read my first Pictonaut piece of 2014 here and I hope you enjoy it…

Facing Up to Bleak Films and Historical Atrocities on Screen…

The Den of Geek website took a more-than-well-deserved Christmas holiday and that meant I didn’t offer up a weekly film column for a few weeks. That holiday has passed, however, and the Geek Den is now fully-operational. Thus, I’m back with my first article of 2014: a look ahead to some of the depressing films due in UK cinemas in January and February. We’re in ‘Serious & Sombre Season’ which coincides with Awards Season and that means that a lot of heavy duty, heartbreakingly bleak and weighty movies are appearing on screens. You can read the column for extra thoughts and a look forward to some interesting-albeit-unhappy-looking pictures if you like…

As an extra note, I did get to see 12 Years a Slave (one of the films on the bleak-list) the other night. I’d urge others to seek it out at the cinema if possible because I think it’s important and stands as an artwork that needs to be experienced. That experience is a very unpleasant and distressing one (though there are, erm, some beautiful shots and nice period production design details). I spent a lot of the film squirming and silently pleading “Cut! Cut! Please, no more!” but I’d argue that we need to go through these ‘ordeals’ (relatively speaking, watching upsetting films is not an ordeal) and confront brutality so we not only come to terms with actual reality but also historical fact.

I’ll restrain myself from a grandstanding soapbox moment (I am not a Master of Soap Boxing and, to be honest, I’m more interested in being a teetotal Master of Drunken Boxing). I’ll leave it at this: I’m happy (for want of a better word) that slavery as an incomprehensible historical taboo is being tackled more on film. We’ve got to face the atrocities of the past and cinema is an ideal medium by virtue of its viscerality and multi-sensory nature. Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is even more affecting than any other movie about institutionalised inhumanity I’ve sat through because of his meditative style. What the audience is presented with is an unflinching and brutally realistic picture made up of long, passive sequences where we have no choice but to just watch and absorb the ugliness before us. We’re forced to feel the pain and endure the torment of the characters (even calling them “characters” feels glib and inappropriate). We need to experience works like this so we remember and so we can learn and develop as human beings.

I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious or soap-boxy. As I say, I recommend it and, in general, I recommend tremendously disturbing, bleak films. They’re good for your soul…

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