Guest, A Poem

9 Jun
Guest, A Poem by Ray Daley.
9/6/17
I’m the one that’s living at the bottom of your garden,
In a little wooden box that’s labelled “TEA“.
No-one else is living at the bottom of your garden,
The only person living there is me.
There’s cabbages and lettuces, there’s many types of fruit,
I’ve being there so long now, I feel I’ve taken root.
Because I’m the one that’s living at the bottom of your garden,
There’s nowhere else I’d really rather be.
THE END.

Examining The Twilight Zone; Examination Day

8 Jun

I’d never seen this before, or read the story it was based on.

Henry Slesar presents us a vision of the future, a young boy reaching his 12th birthday where he has to take a Government exam. It’s not specifically stated what kind of test this is, but when Dickie is told he’s just drunk a truth serum, I suddenly started paying attention.

So what’s the problem?

Dickie is eager to do well, he wants to pass the test. Big mistake, it turns out this is a dystopian future where they don’t want smart kids. Sucks to be Dickie them, because they kill him.

How does he try to overcome this?

He doesn’t. The kid isn’t told the nature of the test. I’m sure if he’d been told beforehand, he’d have dialled his answers back if he could.

What mistakes does this episode make?

We get no real warning that anything is awry, other than Mom’s statement about him being not like other kids. It’s too vague.  Him suddenly being dead and the parents being asked if they want a Government or private burial comes literally from nowhere. It’s quite a shock for a short story.

The story this is based on runs exactly the same way, an unexpected death with no real clues to it prior.

Ways to fix Examination Day?

1) Use of Chekov’s gun to establish stupidity is the norm in this society. It’s not such a massive shock when they kill Dickie for being smart then.

2) Have Dickie allude to having lost a smart friend who already took the test, he’s sad his friend died but is still eager to be tested himself. It’s the old bait and switch. Dickie still dies, but we understand why now.

3) The Harrison Bergeron defence. Use this idea to place Dickie into a better society that lives behind his stupid society. Mum & Dad can still be told Dickie is dead, but he’s not. He’s alive and well and living in Sandusky, Ohio. Where all the brainy people live.

4) Have Dickie be an identical twin. One passes, the other doesn’t. When they’re given the results, Dickie chooses to sacrifice himself so his brother might live. You’ve still got a dead kid, but Dickie gets to go out as a hero.

5) Have Dickie deliberately try to fail, but he’s found out under the truth serum. They kill him because this is an overt display of high intelligence. A much more satisfying outcome.

The ending of this story was so sudden, it annoyed me. I’d fix it by combining elements of idea 4 and 5. Dickie is a twin, but they detect his attempt to cheat and kill him and his brother.

Henry Slesar is usually a decent writer, I think he didn’t do a very good job here though.

Examining The Twilight Zone; The Cold Equations

8 Jun

I rewatched this recently, and read it again.

Tom Godwin presents us with a simple dilemma, an unexpected stowaway aboard a deep space freighter who only have one rule for such things. Death by spacing.

Our pilot is presented as a man with a heart, who does everything he can think of to help the stowaway, a girl who was only trying to visit her brother.

So what’s the problem?

The ship can’t slow down fast enough with the excess mass. Meaning he can’t deliver his cargo of vitally important and urgently needed vaccines.

How does he try to overcome this?

By stripping as much weight as he can from the ship to off-set her extra mass. He is not successful and is forced to eject her into space to allow him to reach his destination safely.

What mistakes does this episode make?

1) When her excess mass is detected. So far into the journey and so deep into space. It’s not like she magically appears from nowhere, she’s been aboard since he left where ever he set out from. Any half decent computer system would have detected the extra mass prior to take off. This is one method of debunking the story.

2) She’s not just extra mass. She’s also a strain on a system designed for only 1 pilot. So she’s screwed him for oxygen too. She hasn’t just killed herself with her thoughtlessness, she killed him too.

3) Ejecting the extra mass into space should apply the laws of physics. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So every time he blasts air out into space, it should push the ship forwards a little faster making it even harder to slow down.

No mention is ever made of this or my other two points. Probably because Tom Godwin wasn’t all that smart. This is classed as a hard science story. But it’s really not. Godwin spent little to no time thinking his science through.

If he had, he’d have seen the problems I raised here. I spotted these flaws just watching the show which was only ten minutes long. I’m not a genius, nor am I a scientist.

I am a good observer and a good critical thinker.

Ways to fix The Cold Equations?

1) Rewrite it completely, have the stowaway detected before leaving for space. This ruins the entire story but it at least renders it into hard SF.

2) Have her detected close enough to be removed from the ship. You can still maintain an element of peril and have our young stowaway survive despite her stupidity.

3) Make it possible for the pilot to strip enough mass to offset her being aboard. Again, she still lives despite her stupidity.

4) Make it possible for the pilot to strip enough mass but he realises at the last minute on approach to his destination they won’t have enough oxygen to survive the landing. They both die and the cargo is also destroyed. An even colder equation than even Godwin thought possible.

I’m quite annoyed that this wasn’t thought out more when it made the leap from short story to television. It’s been extremely easy to not only tear holes in the bad science of an alledged “hard SF” story but equally easy to suggest improvements.

I think I’d go with my last suggestion and title it “The Coldest Equation.”

The Fight against depression

8 Jun

Recently I’ve been having some issues.

Depression hasn’t been helping me get motivated to write. It’s not like I haven’t been creative, I just haven’t been able to find a way to get myself actually writing and finishing something.

I checked the archive, the last thing I completed was on the 28th May 2017.

Ten whole days ago. That’s not good for a writer.

I wrote something called “The Fight,” a time travel piece where I’m not quite the protagonist but a lot of the names are from my own life. Writing about my sister and mother (both deceased) hurt me more than I thought.

To the point where when I was checking dates, I was in tears!

Then I just bottomed out into a funk, depressed and upset. Not in a good place.
I was angry about my writing, my creativity.

Today I pretty much forced myself to finish something. Almost 4 hours of writing, over 4000 words too. Long, for me. A long session too.

I don’t know if I feel any better, but I feel relieved at having written and finished something in this amount of time.

Even if you have to force yourself, it proves you can keep writing.

The only way out of a creative depressive funk is to get through it.

Here endeth the lesson.

God Save The Queen! (a blog exclusive story)

5 Jun

CAUTION! STORY MAY CONTAIN CTHULHU. AND SARCASM.

God Save The Queen!
17/12/16
By Ray Daley

 

Man, those damn Brits are crazy. They don’t try and hide their fanaticism, it’s right out there in plain sight for everyone to hear.

Just listen to their damn national anthem! “God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen!

One thing no-one ever asks? Which God is saving their Queen, exactly?

Because when you come down to brass tacks, he (or she) is doing a pretty fine job of saving their Queen so far. That God is one attentive and benevolent God to their Queen. He (or she) has given her almost sixty five years of solid Queening so far. And she certainly shows no sign of letting up, does she?

So which God is saving their Queen?

It’s almost certainly a God that demands regular blood sacrifices. Admittedly it’s been a while since the last one but boy did Diana buy the Queen a whole lot of saving.

The Queen and her family have to be getting worried now though. That God has to be baying for new blood right now. It’s been nineteen years since they gave him Diana, just to tie up a few loose ends for the Queen. She never liked her anyway.

But someone has to be getting nervous in the Royal Family now, don’t they? Your eyes naturally turn to Phil The Greek, but would a Queen saving God really want a frail ninety five year old man for his next meal?

Even a blind man knows the answer to that is no.

So which of the royals should be saying their prayers and settling their affairs to let dear old Lillibet carry on Queening up to her hundredth birthday?

Well, if I were a betting man I’d suggest a couple of likely candidates to sate the Elder God’s hunger and renew his Queen saving vigour anew. Because the God that’s currently saving the Queen is obviously Cthulhu. So which royals should be checking they’ve got good life insurance at the moment?

Well, the safe money would be on Sarah Ferguson. She’s still a Duchess, and that’s worth a whole lot of Queen saving to a hungry God.

Not that she is the only person who should be worrying right now. The most useless actual royal of all should also be shitting his regal pants right now, Steady Eddie, the boy who couldn’t cut it in the Royal Marines.

I think he’d buy his dear old Mum at least another twenty years of being saved if he did the noble thing and threw himself under the bus, so to speak.

So yes. The Brits are crazy. God save the Queen indeed.

Just don’t ask them which God. Not if you want to live, that is.

THE END

Hotmail Login error fix

30 May

A word of warning/advice to those finding they are having certification issues logging into what used to be Hotmail.

An error occurred during a connection to www.hotmail.com. Invalid OCSP signing certificate in OCSP response. Error code: SEC_ERROR_OCSP_INVALID_SIGNING_CERT

That error, as above.

I found that as soon as I removed the old Hotmail URL & used the Outlook one, that problem went right away.

So if you are getting that problem, Google the Outlook URL, login and bookmark that. You should have no more certification issues.

Hotmail as an entity went bye bye a while back, replaced by Outlook. It’s probably why this happened, Microsoft simply stopped updating the settings for it.

Hope this helps, it fixed it for me.

What’s currently in submission #3 & #4

11 May
From April 10th, 2017.
#3
It’s been almost a month since the last update, here’s what stories are currently out in submission.

What’s currently out in submission?

Write Now (subbed to Anthology of Quitters)
The Lanyards (subbed to Asimovs)
Welcome To Your New Home (subbed to Stories for Homes 2)
The Catch (subbed to the were-traveller (PhotoFlash)
Pay Off (subbed to Queer SciFi)
Where’s The Dog (subbed to Electric Spec)
Departure Date (subbed to Phantaxis)
Witch Hunt (subbed to SONOFAWITCH!)
The Concentration Camp (subbed to Persistant Visions)
Second Front (subbed to Nefarious Thoughts)
The Next Best King (subbed to Bete Noire)
Practical Magic For Intermediate Students (subbed to Podcastle)
In Search Of The Elusive Nigel (subbed to Mithila Review)

That’s 13 stories out there currently.

#4

It’s been just over a month since the last update, here’s what stories are currently out in submission.

What’s currently out in submission?
Write Now (subbed to Anthology of Quitters)
The Lanyards (subbed to Asimovs)
The Catch (subbed to the were-traveller (PhotoFlash))
Pay Off (subbed to Queer SciFi)
The Concentration Camp (subbed to Persistant Visions)
Second Front (subbed to Nefarious Thoughts)
In Search Of The Elusive Nigel (subbed to Mithila Review)
The Dionesian Wave (subbed to When You’re Strange (CASFWG))
Mistaken Identity (subbed to Timeless Tales)
The Legend (subbed to Fireside Fiction)
Witch Hunt (subbed to Weird Book)
The Parting (subbed to Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Departure Date (subbed to Darkfuse Magazine)
The Thinker (subbed to Flash Fiction Online)
That’s 14 stories out in the wild at the moment.