Third Life – Flash Fiction

Outside, thumping relentlessly on my windowpane, the ruptured Chiba sky pours its thick, sticky summer rain. I take a long drag on a knock-off Marlboro, synth-tobacco clinging to my throat with a taste like ozone.

The sky is a cold slab of television-grey, lit by the humming neon of the Shinjuku district as it slices through the smog from over a mile away. Sixty-five stories up and I can feel it – the Biz – far below on the streets, in the alleyways. The eternal hustle; a grey lawless economy, both sustained and frowned upon by the Zaibatsus who feed off its live-or-die vitality. In the bustle, amongst these thousands of hustlers, pimps, dealers, fixers, runners and marks, a hired door punk like me can feel God-damn alone. I need to get out, just for a few hours.

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My book craving has been Kindled

It was my birthday on Monday and, aside from the delicious ninja omelettes my wonderful fiancée made me for breakfast (did I mention I’m THIRTY-FOUR YEARS OF AGE?), she also bought me a Kindle Paperwight.

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That’s right, I have finally joined the ranks of the e-reading cyberpunk revolution, jacking in to my favourite synth-novels with all the other sub-commuting fiction-hackers.

And what a joy it is! A brief gander reveals quirks like the ingeniously simple integrated dictionary, enabling instant vocab expansion as you read; a handy quote-saving mechanic that will prove useful for reviews; and a backlit display that will last for months without recharging.

That’s pretty special – not to mention its lightweight and slender build, particularly in relation to the hulking Medieval tree-mulch we know of as “books”.

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Cliffhangers: are they for your characters, or your readers?

I’m currently reading dystopian sci-fi page-turner Wool by Hugh Howey. I’ll post the review once I’m through, but one aspect of its narrative structure struck me and I wanted to discuss it; namely, its cliffhangers.

My own work, Citadel, is written in third-person deep point-of-view, which means I refer to the character I’m following in the third person, but the narration stays in her head, describes the events she sees and notices the things only she would notice.

But like many writers, I move the perspective around between my characters, staying with one for a full chapter, then moving to another for the next, just as Howey does in Wool.

The problem is, sometimes there can be AN EVENT that affects everyone, or A TRUTH that people discover separately, at different times. This creates a dilemma: by the time your second character becomes aware of something, the reader already knows it. You cannot elicit the same reader response (surprise) more than once.

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The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell – [Book Review]

Don't interrupt me
In China, being rudely interrupted whilst reading Cloud Atlas

About four years ago, I picked up a copy of Cloud Atlas on a recommendation from my friend Ben. From the first few pages I was stunned. Here was a book of such quality, it made my own work read like the witless ramblings of an illiterate cretin. I loved it, and loathed it with self-deprecating awe.

I’ve heard some people were thrown by the first chapter’s somewhat verbose Victorian-style prose, but I found it captivating. The vocabulary was astonishing, the choice of words practically perfect.

I was also struck by the symmetrical structure of the book, which, when I realised I would be returning to the initial protagonist Adam Ewing, gave me all the more compulsion to read on and discover the resolution to his plight. Yet, I was enthralled by the next character I was presented with, and the next.

Each tale had its own unique tone, its own genre. And beneath it all there ran the theme of mankind’s predatory nature, persisting through the eras, adopting a different guise to confound us.

It’s a fabulous book and I recommend it whole-heartedly.

But it’s that, I’m afraid, that makes this review all the harder to write.
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