No Way Home by J.S Collyer, Lucas Bale et al

Morning lovely readers 🙂

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Well, today I get to talk to you about the exceptional No Way Home, a collaboration of short stories from some brilliant writers including my wonderful friend J.S.Collyer. I was one of the people lucky enough to receive an advanced review copy and believe me when I tell you you will not be disappointed on reading this.

Now the only thing is where do I begin? The high calibre of the writing is maintained throughout the book with each author presenting a unique view on an almost dystopian sci fi future; each in turn with the underlying theme that there is no escape. Imagine finding yourself in such a hostile environment that you long to escape. What would you do to survive? Blackmail? Philander? Maybe even kill? or perhaps you come to realise that surviving isn’t an option at all? This collection gives us glimpses into a quality of life when seemingly all hope is lost and there is indeed no way home.

First I’d like to begin by mentioning the first story within this stellar book, To Sing of Chaos and Eternal Night by Lucas Bale. This particular story pulled a chord with me as there is quite a well written and shock provoking twist to the story. I won’t go into too much detail here as always but I have to say that as the story progressed I did not expect to find out what I did. Imagine living only for war, your previous life totally forgotten in the amount of times you have lived and died for the cause. You know only that you must fight, that you must kill. You are the only thing standing between humanity and outright extinction, or are you?? The imagery created within this narrative is very clear and succinct to the plot line. The cold harsh reality of the tools of war scream at you from the written word, the protagonists acceptance of his fate as unavoidable is clear as water. The language use is apt to show the brilliance of the intrigue; ‘It is a boy… I cannot understand why he has fired on me; why he would attack me at all. Across the colonies, Widows are renowned, legendary even. We are all that stands between the human race and it’s extinction…’ It’s here where you start thinking hang on a second, what’s really going on. The ending left me breathless but resolute in my liking of the story.

Next (and you knew it was coming lol) I’d like to talk about J.S Collyer’s story Grist. It was here that I felt very strong representations of excellent narrative tools. J.S manages to create a very strong sense of suspense throughout the whole narrative. You begin to wonder if there’s more to the World than J.S represents in the story. Why all the need to escape? There are no spoilers intended within this review but I will say this; what really struck me about this story was the portrayal of the protagonists relief at the end. You can literally feel a weight being lifted off your own shoulders. J.S is great at many things within the literary World but what always catches me is her ability to really bring to life the emotion in her work. As to the story itself, imagine everything you knew was ripped away from you. You are then thrust into a dark, grimy and hate filled World where you can never be sure who is friend and who is foe, enduring years of slave labour. What would you do to escape? How will you act when the desperation mounts? As mentioned before the emotion really comes through as does the imagery created. The World the protagonist finds themselves in really seems to shout of similar imagery to the bowls of Hell; it’s hot, the senses are burned away and everyone suffers. The language use itself is velvety and oozing caramel; ‘They say it’s the beginning of the end when you can no longer smell the grease. It’s the sharp, smoky smell, like hot copper, that gives bloodgrease it’s name. That and the fact that it turns a thick, dark red before the final filter.’ I know right? This ambiguous beginning, as this is where I got these lines, actually sets the scene for the protagonists suffering; why they are there, why they are needed. It’s a thrilling tale that leaves you gasping for more.

Finally I would like to mention the story by S. Elliot Brandis, XE, or People are Crazy. It’s in this story you can really feel the belief that not having all the information you need can askew your view of the World. As cliché as this sounds, what really attracted me at first was the title. Anyone who knows me will know that I love anything that is interesting and different. XE manages to keep that sci fi aspect but hello? People are Crazy? I need to read this. What follows is an intense story of hope, abject confusion, loss and ultimately betrayal. Much like J.S, S. Elliot is very good at projecting the emotion of the protagonist. I must admit, hearing the history of the character bought a small tear to my eye. The narrative itself is a study in misdirection and intrigue. Imagine you were sent to a colourful New World to see if it is indeed habitable. You were promised a life lived in peace should you succeed. You’re determined but scared. Everything seems to be going well, until you discover something small, something you never expected, which changes everything. The thing that stood out for me was the vividity of the colour represented in the story. You feel like you can actually see the World in your minds eye. The language use is just enough to blast your mind with creativity; ‘ His eyes flash open, made brighter by the glow of the blue sun overhead… Around him is a sea of Orange. Well, not quite a sea, but the effect is similar. Orange grass extends as far as the horizon…’ I love anything colourful and imaginative and this story has both in spades.

So, after all my non stop talking (I do that a lot 🙂 ), I can honestly say this is a book worth getting. It is a credit to the authors and all involved. It’s an ooey gooey slice of literary creative goodness which you need to get as soon as it’s out. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you.

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The Writer and the Vivid Imagination PLUS a new #FlashForFriday

Just recently I’ve come to wonder how writers control their vivid imaginations. In my opinion at least that’s the one ingredient writers can’t do without. One would need a vivid imagination combined with a love of creating new Worlds and a passion for the written word to create some literary marvels; but how do you stop it from leaking into your subconscious mind?

There’s a mild warning for late pregnancy that your dreams will become more vivid but I put a question to you; does it become a more surreal experience when you write? I have spoken to other women about this and they say the most that occurred with them was they could remember more of their dreams. So does this mean their dreams remained, for want of a better word, normal? Is it because we as writer’s use our imagination everyday to create Worlds and such immensely vivid clarity will automatically leak into the subconscious mind?

Speaking from my personal experience alone I am one that never remembered dreams, I would merely wake up with a sense of emotion from it such as fear from a nightmare. Recently however I have been remembering entire dreams and what I have dreamt has left me with a sense amusement and some very surreal literature to write. I’ve dreamt about visiting my sister in a place where I used to live but now it had purple sky and the houses had changed to palaces. I’ve dreamt about everything being made of chocolate (I know, I know lol 🙂 ) and I took a bite out of my boyfriend’s arm; but the most vivid dream I have had was about a talking horse. Now those old enough to remember will know of an American tv show called Mr Ed about such a talking horse but I can promise you,  my dream was far different…

Redemption

How long had she run now? She felt like she had been running forever. She was so guilt stricken that she had run from battle that even her foot steps through the forest seemed to echo maniacal, taunting laughter. Her silver sword slapped at her back and her crossbow pinched her leather clad behind. Surely she was far enough away that she could stop now. The tendons in her legs burned and her feet were numb; collapsing from exhaustion was a near certainty at this point.

Eventually she came upon a silver lake surrounded by silver trees in the moonlight. She slowed her speed and soon came to a stop. Her chest felt heavy and her soul felt broken. She sat upon a nearby rock and allowed her head to fall into her hands. She panted as she felt pure crystalline tears escape through her fingers. What had happened to her? She had never been a coward before. She had always faced her foes with courage and a small amount of tenacity. However, seeing her King fall had almost shattered her. She had served with honour and had a love for the King and need to protect him. Seeing him pierced with a thousand arrows had sent many warriors in many directions, herself included. She was so ashamed.

She listened to the serene water for a while, hoping the calmness would overtake her soul but she was jarred by a note of discontent. There was a rustle coming from the other side of the lake. She tensed. Had the enemy found her already? She wouldn’t run this time she decided. She jumped to her feet withdrawing her sword as she went. It sliced through the air with cold lethality and somehow she began to heal. To her surprise however she didn’t see the enemy wading towards her, she found a beautiful pure white horse instead. She dropped her sword in amazement. It walked directly up to her, nuzzled her from head to toe and asked,

“Why do you cry?” She was shocked. Had the horse really spoken to her or was it just part of her feverish imaginings? Perhaps sanity had deserted her just as she had the battle. In any case she answered,

“I am a coward. I ran from my King’s battle. The sight of him falling to so many arrows shattered my heart; and… and… I do not want to die.”

“Fear not,” the steed claimed. “Climb onto my back and you will not die. We will win this battle together.” She wasn’t sure how to take this offer. Was she dreaming? What did she have to lose however? Well, her dignity but that was gone the moment she ran. She bent to scoop her sword from the soft silver grass and placed it within its sheath on her back. She then mounted the horse as graceful as she could, which is to say, not graceful at all. Finally situated she motioned for the horse to move on and it did so at blurring speed.

Soon enough they were both back at the scene of the battle. The dead were strewn across the ground with little care; the gold of the Kings men contrasted greatly with the pure black armour of the enemy. She didn’t know where to look. The battle still raged around them and she began to wonder what the point of it all was.

“Go bravely into battle,” the horse began. “Your courage will be shield alone but I will be here should you need me.”

She dismounted tentatively, unsure if her cowardice would resurface. She braced herself for an onslaught but found none, she would have to go to the battle. She watched in wonder as the horse plunged in head first felling all warriors in black as he went. It was a massacre but he was beautiful to behold.

She took a deep breath. She would be a coward no longer. She took the steed as an example and plunged into the battle. She used her sword to cut down foe before her and her crossbow to reach those her sword could not. In her own mind at least she was cutting a bloody swath that the enemy would not recover from.

Eventually enough of the enemy surrounded her and she fell to her knees exhausted. Let Death come now, she had earned forgiveness for her cowardice. She could die with honour.

“NO,” came a yell and she swore it was the horse again. He managed to wipe the enemy from one side of her and he shouted “you cannot die!” He charged her as he began to glow with silver light. It grew brighter and brighter until everyone, herself included, was blinded by it.

The silver sparkle gradually faded however and she found herself surrounded by her dead foe. More alarmingly she was clasped in a strong embrace amid the most intimate kiss of her life. She fluttered her eyes open and she was shocked to find the King alive and well. He broke the kiss reluctantly and said,

“Allia, warrior of the realm and my secret hearts desire, I will not let you go again.”

———————–

As you can see, it was the most vivid dream I could remember. What do you think? 🙂 Sorry if it doesn’t make sense, it was a dream after all 🙂

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