Saturday, 17 February 2018

Nathan Lowell, A Light In The Dark, audiobook, MP3

Nathan Lowell, A Light In The Dark, audiobook, MP3

Click Image yo download
 Duration: 5 hours, 51 minutes
speech synthesis (ScanSoft, Daniel, UK English)

This appears to be a highly unofficial audiobook version of the publication not currently available in audiobook format. It's obviously been adapted from text using one of the more sophisticated speech synthesis voices. It will certainly do until the also finally gets around to producing an audiobook version, should this ever happen.

When Captain Bjorn Gunderson docks with what he thinks is routine cargo, he embarks on an unexpected voyage. On a milk run from Welliver to Breakall, a tiny rock punctures his ship and leaves the crew adrift twenty-thousand years from home. With food, water, and air running out, a desperate crewman takes a reckless gamble, risking his life in a daring bid to find safety. What he finds instead puts them all at risk.

Join Captain Gunderson and his crew on the final voyage of the Solar Clipper Wanderer in book one of Tales from the Deep Dark -- A Light in the Dark.

An award winning producer of science fiction and fantasy podcasts, Nathan Lowell has produced eight novels totaling over 160 episodes and 70 hours of podcast fiction. Since 2008, four of his productions have been finalists in the Parsec Awards and his book--Captain's Share--won the 2010 Parsec Award for Best Podcast Fiction (Long Form). In 2010, Ridan Publishing began producing his work in paper and ebook formats. Those books are available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the iBook Store, and from Ridan Publishing.

A Light In the Dark is the first of a series of novellas set in the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. The series focuses on the happenings in and around a renegade outpost, a place outside the jurisdiction of the Confederated Planets--a place where the normal rules don't apply and where anything might happen.

Novel Nibbles are a series of shorter works offered in ebook only format for those who would like something to read on their smartphones and other small mobile devices. Coming in at around 20,000 words, they're shorter works for smaller screens.

I found this link lurking in one of the down-at-heel corners of the Internet and I was so glad to get out of there that I've forgotten where I got it from.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Bridgfords, Countrywide, bloody awful Gateshead office


I'm sure you found yourself confronted by idiotic circumstances, that seem to be supported by those people operating a set of rules that you are never likely to be able to make any sense out of. It's a common enough human condition. As the old saying goes, common sense ain't so common. From all of which, you might deduce that I've had something of a frustrating day (and you would be right)!

Some several months ago a tenant moved out of one of my houses and left the place in the most appalling state. The stupid woman expected to get her deposit back, even though I had to spend thousands of pounds getting the place put right! The lettings agency have their own rules and they state that the tenant needs to remain unresponsive for about three months before they will release the deposit to the landlord. Well, at the end of January that time nearly came and went! At the 11th hour, the tenant decided to open a dispute with us over whether we should keep the entirety of the deposit sum. I'll be honest, we only supplied enough invoices and receipts to cover the amount of the deposit and yesterday I finished off scanning and collating all the remaining receipts, so as to provide overwhelming evidence concerning the amount of money expended. It just so happens that the office is in a place called Gateshead, and I have avoided talking to this particular administrative office, as much as possible, owing to a plethora of historical evidence that this particular office doesn't respond to correspondence, loses messages and is generally a white hot hub of inefficiency. When I didn't receive any kind of acknowledgement for the receipts that I sent this office, I wanted to make sure that all my efforts were not in vain and both of us tried ringing this office during the course of yesterday and today. It was only when I left behind a rather heated sounding message that my next call was going to be the company's CEO, that I got any kind of response from the place! Clearly, the thought of being held accountable for being so inefficient was something that worried the people who worked at this office. Unfortunately, for them, they had already passed my point of no return and the news I received, on successfully receiving a return call, made me even more determined to go further.

It doesn't take a genius to work out why it is that the tenants have now gone extremely quiet. They've obviously realised that this is an argument that they can't win and so is nothing in it for them to carry on with any kind of correspondence. Unfortunately, the idiots at the Gateshead office need to have some kind of conversation with the tenants in order to close the matter and it doesn't seem to matter which phone numbers they use, this office is unable to get anything by way of response out of the erstwhile tenants. I now have news from this office that all they can do is to continue to phone the tenants until they get some kind of answer and, in the meantime, they get to sit on about £700 that we should get towards the cost of putting right the damage that the tenants did! Of course, there's always the chance that the Gateshead office will never receive any kind of response and yet there seems to be no strategy in place for dealing with what amounts to a fairly obvious situation and outcome.

I had some breathing space to sort this problem out, as much as I can. Fanny had to go out of the house and down the road to a card shop, in order to buy me a Valentines card, the day before the date! You expect men to do this sort of thing, not women, but this is typical of Fanny! I'll give you an example. It was the morning of my birthday, two or three years ago, I woke up and Fanny was going around as though everything was business as usual. I knew that there was probably a greetings card around somewhere. I thought I would wait and find out just how long I would have to go through that morning, before my dear wife remembered it was my f**king birthday! By 11:30 I decided to give up and remind her. It was worse than I thought… Fanny went dashing off and she was gone long enough that I then realised that she had to write the card out, before giving it to me! I suppose there are worse things in life and an ex-boyfriend of mine was certainly confronted with one of these, from his own brother! The guy came downstairs, looked at Alan, suddenly remembered it was his birthday, when dashing out of the house and down the street to the nearest newsagent shop, bought a cheap and horrible card, came rushing back with it, sat opposite Alan at the breakfast table, wrote the card out in front of him, stuck the envelope down by licking the flap and then handed it to Alan with the glue is still soggy with saliva! That's so bad, it's funny.

Fanny is not the response that I expect to get from the Gateshead office that I have just been talking about, because I've written to a managing director of the company, one directly responsible for the lettings side of things! I didn't get annoyed, but I did deliver something of a broadside! So far, I only have an automated acknowledgement of my email and I may not get to hear from the managing director himself, but the fuses burning down on this one and the explosion will follow shortly!

My dear wife came back from buying the card and she asked me to reprint a letter that I had written on her behalf, some several weeks ago, that was supposed to go to a solicitor acting for her second cousin Annie! Apparently, the letter had never arrived! Life started getting complicated at this point, and the Internet connection at my computer decided to go down… even if everything else was working okay. Simply printing a letter was turned into something that acquired an increasing sense of urgency, because Fanny had also invited Annie out to lunch and set a time which was getting a bit too close for comfort. The pressure was on and I was the victim… and not liking it very much! In the end, I gave up on trying to establish an Internet connection with my printer, copied the wordprocessor file in question to a memory stick and took it down stairs to my dear wife's rinky-dink laptop. It was quicker to do that then configure my new laptop into the printer in my computer den. Of course, I was faced with using a tiny screen and expanding this so that I could look at only bits of it at a time. This still wasn't a situation that was ideal and I ended up by printing the wrong file. With Fanny keep asking me whether I was finished what I was doing, I was beginning to get just a little fraught. My language got colourful enough that the surrounding air was beginning to ionise!

Knowing my dear wife's propensity for leaving behind crucial pieces of paper, before we pull the way from outside of our house, to go and meet Annie for lunch, I asked whether she had remembered the letter that she was supposed to be bringing with her. Fanny seemed supremely confident when she answered "yes." I suppose I should have known better. When we arrived lunch, it turned out that Fanny had, indeed, done what she always does, and left the letter indoors. Wisps of red steam were now curling out of my ears and my usual equanimity was suffering badly.

I've still had to struggle with my computer, this afternoon, as it has decided to keep going off-line, sporadically… but now appears to have settled down (he said, hastily looking around for some wood to touch). As to what will come of the confrontation with the lettings agency, don't touch that dial!

Wasp, Eric Frank Russell, MP3 audiobook

You won't find this as an audiobook, anywhere else! Possibly because some enterprising blind man has seen fit to use some upmarket speech synthesis, to convert the text of this book into something you can listen to. Okay, you have to download it from rapidGator and if you're not signed up for the premium version of this, then it will take a while to download! Big deal!  I imagine that the person who did the conversion work was mindful of the fact that the Copyright holders shown no interest in making audiobooks out of older science-fiction. It was probably intended to blind people and those living with dyslexia. Click on the image below to download.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Sock Paranoia

I'm convinced that my socks hide from me, in the morning, but when I'm trying to get dressed. I'll leave them on the floor, next to my slippers, when I get into bed and I think they move around. The other morning I found two socks, but they were from such different pairs that I couldn't possibly get away with wearing the two together! More often than not, I'll find just the one sock and the other one will have gone into hiding! It's absolutely fatal if I should put the sock I've already found, down somewhere, whilst I'm looking for the other one… should I discover the second sock, then you can bet your life that the one I found, originally, has gone missing!

Of course, one solution is to get out another pair of socks… once I put these on, you can guarantee that I will find both the socks that I was looking for originally! I'm not sure whether this only happens to blind people, but I somehow get the idea that socks enjoy a greater freedom of movement around blind people… they have got a better chance of sneaking around without us noticing!

I'll just bet something like this has happened to you, if it's not socks then it will be something else… Perhaps you'd like to share your own experiences!

[Image description: animated sock]

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

the Mickey Mouse church

I always wondered what it was about theme parks that made me uneasy and want to avoid going to them. "You'll love Disney World!" people would say to me. To start off with, I could always say that it was all the way over in America and that I had no real yen to go there, leave alone Disney World. Then they built one on the outskirts of Paris and, for a while, it was a venture that looked as though it was going to fail. I confess I watched with interest, hoping the enterprise would come down like a house of cards and still not really sure why I felt that way.

When movie companies are shooting a street scene about the Old West, they don't build the whole town from scratch, complete with everything. They use a series of facades that look really convincing from the front, if all you're doing is pointing a movie camera at them. Walk around the back and you'll find that the whole thing is nothing but a string of wooden panels held up by struts and that any reality ceases to exist, the moment you walk past the bit that is being used by the camera angles. Suddenly, it's back to the reality that you know and understand.

When you listen to some people's account of the visit to watch a film, they often speak in terms of being transported to another world. To the best of my knowledge, this only ever happened to me once and I was quite young at the time. I've long since forgotten the name of the movie, but I can vividly remember coming out of the dark interior of the auditorium, seeing the stairs down to the main entrance and, beyond that, the outside world with its bustling traffic and life as normal and realising that I had to go back to this. I can remember thinking that I didn't like the idea of this one little bit. I think this hard landing must have made more of an impression on me than I could ever have guessed, at the time.

I think this experience must have made me wary of any further attempts, by my fellow human beings, to hoodwink me and make me believe that life was somehow better, or different than it really was, if only for a while… that there was a fantasy world in which you could, unless you are really careful, start to believe that the world of everyday cares no longer existed. I would look beyond the gaily painted facades, for doors that opened (albeit ever so briefly) and afforded me a glimpse of the world with people in cover roles and working with packing crates, the real world behind the facade. I came to think of theme parks is the worst example of this, where people had deliberately contrived a fiction that was probably only a few feet deep in places (if that) and somehow I couldn't take the thought of it. This was deliberate deception and wanted to be somewhere else, rather than a part of it!

Then I saw another thing happen. It was different in many ways, but also shared lots of commonalities. The Sussex seaside town of Hastings once had a long promenade beside the beach. You could stroll along this, look out over the beach and the sea and in the distance there was the promise of the pier and the many amusements that were contained within this semi-surreal world built on iron pilings. Where you could still glimpse the sea between the boards that made up the floor of the pier and reality was never that far away. Along the promenade, there were one or two wooden huts, where you could buy seafood or candyfloss or toffee apples and other fancies. Nobody much was bothered when one or two more wooden huts were added to this number and I had a great shock when I returned, after many years away. This line of wooden shacks now extended all the way along the promenade and you could only glimpse the sea in between. The original reason for people going to the seaside at all, had become somehow secondary to commerce. Indeed, to get to the sea at all, you had to squeeze your way between these huts, a few feet of really dirty shingle beach, cold and away from the sun, to get as far as the beach beyond. The meaning had been changed and then lost and something else, greatly different, had taken its place. I went away, wondering at what I had seen, but it was not a sense of wonder about anything good.

Some people go back to see a play, many times over and it never seems to get old. Even if you know what's coming next, somehow, the magic is not lost on those who go back and back and back. Each movement, each line of dialogue becomes as welcome as an old friend, or so I am told.

Seldom, very rarely indeed, have I gone back to a book that I have read before and gone through it again. Going back to something that you once enjoyed, I have found, is normally a big mistake… the chances are that the new experience of something that you once knew and had enjoyed, will have some of the original magic missing. It would be like wandering round the corner, at a theme park, and finding Mickey Mouse with his head off and laying on the ground, beside the man wearing the costume, who is drinking beer, smoking a joint and swapping dirty jokes with Donald Duck!

And this is where the ends joined up, not so long ago, for me. The stage play that is acted out, at the front of a church, each Sunday. The expected lines. Everybody knew their places in what they were supposed to say, the characters they were supposed to be and how easily those actors fell out of role and the facade melted away, once the play was over. The surprise when those same actors could turn really nasty, if you were not swept up in their own world. That was a shock. Being told "I have met your sort before and you are this, that and the other … listing character traits that were nothing like me. Then I realised that this was like that seaside scene, that began with God and love and then somebody added this bit of ritual and that bit of doctrine and that was okay to start off with but if you carry on doing that for hundreds of years, you end up with something which is all tinsel, all front of house and the substance of what it was once about seems to have been lost. It's a kind of theme park and some of the actors still dress up in strange costumes… lots more of them talking ways that normal people never use… sometimes going into a strange and grinding gear change where the language used takes on a very different quality, almost like casting a magic spell using special words. Is it any wonder that I came to trust what I could work out for myself, or discern through contemplation, rather than anything I was told?