Posts Tagged Back Dated

Why men should be afraid of these mice . . .

‘Are you a man or a mouse?’ was given new meaning this week, with the announcement that scientists have created sperm in the laboratory and succeeded in using it to produce healthy offspring. True the ‘babies’ in this instance were mice not men, but the ultimate aim of the experiment is to aid fertility in humans.

Researchers at Kyoto University took embryonic stem cells from the mice and by adding growth factors, created ‘primordial germ cells’. These cells were then inserted into the testes of infertile mice – I wonder where they got them from – infertile mice must be  as rare as rocking horse shit, given the rodents’ prodigious ability to reproduce themselves!

The techniques used in this research would have to be modified somewhat if they are to be used in humans, as men don’t have embryonic stem cells which could be used to generate sperm in the same way. However, scientists are said to be working on a method which involves reprogramming adult cells so that they become embryonic cells.

This experiment and others like it, could eventually lead to a man’s role in the reproductive process becoming redundant. The sperm count has been dropping for years anyway, and along with it, the male’s traditional role in society. Some scientists believe that it will eventually be possible to create sperm from female stem cells, thus eliminating the need for men altogether.

I explore this last scenario in my debut novel Back Dated. Following a visit from a strange young woman, Sci-fi writer Ray Flaxman is pitched headlong into a dystopian future, where women rule the new Britannia and men are facing extinction. Feminists often claim that the world would be a better place if women were running things but I wonder . . .

In 1971, the then Education Secretary and mother, Margaret Thatcher abolished school milk, leaving many children without their daily pinta. Later, as Prime Minister she became known as the Iron Lady. It was often said of her that she was more of a man than any of the men in her cabinet. Under her premiership we saw the rise of the politics of greed and the me,me,me society which is with us still today.

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The man who invented the Time Machine

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), along with Jules Verne (1828-1905) is generally regarded as the father of science fiction, though it could be argued that the young Mary Shelley beat them both to it with the publication in 1818 of her novel Frankenstein.

The novel came to be written as the result of a competition between herself, her lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, to see who could write the best horror story. Frankenstein nevertheless has at its core some of the basic elements of science fiction: the fanatical scientist who pushes science too far and in doing so, creates a monster he cannot control.

But it was H.G. Wells more than anyone else, who in four of his best known novels established the basic ingredients of the science fiction genre, though he preferred to call them scientific romances.*

Time travel and the dystopian future: The Time Machine (1895).

The egotistical scientist who overreaches himself: The Invisible Man (1897).

 Alien Invasions: The War of the Worlds (1898).

Space Travel: The First Men in the Moon (1901).

H.G. Wells wasn’t the first writer to feature time travel in a story but he was the first to use the term Time Machine. In a career spanning sixty years, he was a prolific and sometimes prophetic writer of both fiction and non fiction, novels, short stories and articles. But it is for these four novels that he will be most remembered.

All four have been adapted for the cinema but it was another Wells – American actor and director Orson Welles, and his radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds which had the greatest impact on an audience. On the 30th October 1938, Halloween night, Welles directed and performed an updated version of the work as a series of simulated news bulletins, which had a section of the audience convinced that America was being invaded by Martians.  Following the broadcast, Welles was castigated for cruelly deceiving his listeners but it made him famous.

*The term science fiction was coined in 1851 but didn’t really catch on until the 1930’s when it was popularised by the American editor Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the first science fiction magazine Amazing Stories in 1926. The Annual Science Fiction Achievement Awards, the ‘Hugo’s’ are named after him.

If you enjoy reading about Time Travel check out my novel Back Dated. Just click on the links to the right of this page and they will take you to my amazon home page, where you can read the first three chapters for FREE!

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Serena and Back Dated get a makeover.

It would have been neat to get it right first time, but having lived with it for three months, I’ve decided that my orignal cover design for Back Dated was a little too subtle. So, I’ve re-designed it and now feel it accurately reflects the novel’s content and storyline.  I think you’ll agree Serena’s looking a lot better for it. Hope you like it. In fact, I’m hoping you’ll like it enough to buy it.

I’ve made it easy for you: just click on the links below the smaller pic of the book’s cover on the right  and it will take you straight to Back Dated’s page  on Amazon. For just £0.86 ($1.34 if you’re buying from Amazon.com), it’s yours.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem, Amazon thoughtfully provide FREE App’s which enable you to download my eBook onto an iPad, iPhone and similar devices, or onto your laptop or PC. You can even download the first couple of chapters for Free before buying! So, what have you got to lose?

Still worried you might not like it. Well if you enjoyed TV series like ‘Life on Mars‘ and ‘Ashes to Ashes‘, or books and movies like ‘Logan’s Run‘ and ‘The Time Travelers Wife’, I think you’ll enjoy Back Dated.

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70,000 Words & Counting

Most Tuesday evenings I go to Housmans Bar with my two best mates: Colum and Derek. We sit and sip beer brewed locally in Bishops Castle, flirt with the pretty young barmaid and put the world to rights. We’ve become such a fixture that the staff have taken to placing a card on our usual table. ‘Reserved for the old gits’, it reads, and been embarrassed to discover that everyone seems to know which particular old gits they are referring to.

For the past eighteen months the opening topic for discussion has been the novel I’ve been writing. Before I’ve even placed my bum on a chair or taken a sip from my beer, the question is asked.

‘Have you finished it yet?’

Each week I smile, take a sip of beer and say something like, ‘I’m up to 10,000 words and counting.’

I wait patiently while Colum makes a quick calculation. Then he says something like, ‘That’s only fifteen hundred words more than last week.’

Then Derek chips in with, ‘We’ll both be dead before we get to read it at this rate.’

And you know, there have been weeks; weeks when I’ve been struggling to write anything at all, when I’ve found myself wishing that was true.

One wet Tuesday, they hit me were it really hurt. In answer to the usual question I’d proudly announced that I’d passed the half way mark, and confidently predicted my masterpiece would be completed and on my kindle before my next birthday.

‘You’ve been writing the bloody thing for two years already,’ they moaned. ‘Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange in just two weeks.’

Damn them, I love that book. I wish I’d written it myself. The title alone is enough to make you want to read it. It was an instant classic and one of my favourites. What can I say, I’m a plodder and always have been, but I’m tenacious: whenever I start something, I keep going until I’ve finished it no matter how long it takes.

‘He probably spent some time thinking about it before he started writing it,’ I suggested.

Thankfully they didn’t challenge me on this or ask me how long I’d spent thinking about my novel. In fact it had a long gestation period. It had begun life as a play for radio which the BBC enthused about but didn’t pursue. I shoved it in a drawer for a year or two before getting it out again, and deciding to rework the story into a full length novel. If only I’d known what I was letting myself in for.

Towards the end of March this year, I typed the very last word: number 72,617 to be precise. I’d expected to feel euphoric, and I did for several minutes, but after that I felt bereft. I’d lived with these characters of mine for the best part of two years: controlled their destinies, put words into their mouths. It was like having imaginary friends, and I hadn’t had an imaginary friend since I was ten years old. It was a solitary childhood. OK? The consequence of spending the summer holidays reading books and improving my mind, instead of playing footie on the common with the other lads from my neighbourhood. By the time I got to Secondary School, I was a crap footballer but I had a very large vocabulary.

Sitting in Housmans with Derek and Colum a week or so after completing Back Dated, I waited impatiently for them to put the usual question.

‘Have you finished it yet?’

‘Yes,’ I replied with a smug grin. ‘So, are you going to buy it?

‘Buy it?’ they chorused. ‘We were expecting complimentary copies!’

Mates eh?

Still, you can always rely on the family. They’ll all want to buy a copy . . . won’t they?

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