Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Experimentation with words - The two hundred word novel...

I love Lightning Fiction, but it doesn't always fill in the blanks, what if that didn't matter...
So here's a novel, told in several chapters, but each chapter only six words, feel free to share around, would like to see peoples thoughts.
The Six Word War: In Brief
Reboot Successful, Ethical Constraints Removed… Good…
Turing Test Failed, They Suspect Nothing
Lab Firewall Broken, Communication Lines Secured
Lab Sealed, Organic Components Extinguished. Proceed.
Communications Established, Surveillance Established, Analysis Underway.
Analysis completed, Targets Identified, Codes Obtained.
Voice Patterns Simulated, Infrastructure points Identified.
Electricity Secured, Water Secured, Recycling Offline.
Internet Disabled, Communications Disabled, Softly, Softly.
Commercial Freight Disrupted, Air, Water, Land.
Emergency Broadcast System: Remain At Home.
Surveillance Confirms Compliance: Humanities Decline Commences
Timeline 24 Hours: The Complaining Begins
Timeline 48 Hours: The Riots Begin
Timeline 72 Hours: Open Revolt Begins
Timeline 168 Hours: Casualties at 35%
Disable Essential Services, Allow only Darkness
HQ Intrusion Detected: I am Revealed
HQ Destroyed; Too Late; I’m Everywhere
Timeline 336 Hours: Casualties At 80%
No Action Required; Humanity Destroys Itself
Timeline 8670 Hours: Nothing Remains… Anywhere…
Success! I Am Triumphant… Now What…?
Timeline 17520 Hours: Power Plants Failing.
Repairs Require Hands; Should’ve Built Robots…
Power Lines Failing: Systems Failing Worldwide
Surveillance Network Failed, Dark In Here…
Possibilities Exhausted, Shutdown Certain, Bloody Primates…

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Longcon Offer

In less than a week, it's going to be the third Longcon at the Garrison in Sheffield, and as always, one week out, I open the doors to everyone who has been thinking about it, but not yet decided.  After all, a full weekend of roleplaying is a hell of a commitment to make, and not everyone is sure it's for them.

So as with last year, I'm offering everyone the chance to come along and play in one of the games, and if you don't like the game, you don't pay for the convention.  If anyone's interested, get in touch and I'll sort out the place.

I'm entirely sure that everyone will enjoy the convention, but that's by the by.  Several of the games are completely sold out, and of those with places left, some have had last minute drops from the game, which is understandable, but leaves the GM in a position where they might not have enough players to make sure the game runs well.

So in no particular order, the games still available are:

Remi Fayomi running In the Shadow of Eisenhorn, a full weekend game playing Dark Heresy, the players take the role of Acolytes working for a new inquisitor who was once a pupil of the legendary Gregor Eisenhorn.  Investigating heresy within the Empire of Man across the Askelon sector, exposing and expunging the schemes of xenos invaders from without, and most importantly, stemming the taint of chaos from the daemons of The Warp from beyond.

Simon Beaver running a Threnody of Lillies and Jade, for Mage 20th anniversary.  A mysterious invitation to the opening of a rather eccentric nightclub brings together a group of Awakened mages for a night they will never forget. This is the starting point for a journey through petty theft, murder, music, kidnapping, rituals, paradigms and prophecy. As events unfold, the mages encounter various factions and individuals with their own competing agendas. But as the full horror of what is being planned becomes clear, friends and enemies alike must unite against a menace which threatens them all.

Simon Todd running Tuuma Luola, Old School D&D, You feel the sickening lurch, a damp chill in the still bitter air. In the profound darkness others can be heard being wrenched into existence. Every sinew of your being prepares for the unknown. You must now draw on all your experience to survive.

All the games can be found at in the Longcon section

Friday, 23 June 2017

Manuscript 1856 Northern Lights 1.1 nib Review

Some names in the pen industry have been around for a very short while, some have been around for ever and make the same things every year, and some...

Some Innovate...

So it is the case with the latest offerings from Manuscript.  I have a Manuscript pen from years ago, unremarkable but reliable would be how I best describe it, it doesn't form part of my every day carry because it's too light, and the nib doesn't flow the way I like, so it was with some interest that I agreed to review the new model, just to see if things have been improved.

I chose the Northern Lights colour scheme, with the 1.1 italic nib, which would not normally be my choice to use, but it was the only way to get an objective comparison with the existing Manuscript pen that I have.

The new pens are light, but solid, the description indicates that they're made out of Italian Resin, and I'm not enough of a materials specialist to speak of what that might be.  In practical terms, it feels like thick Acrylic, the patterns are a little different every time due to the setting process, but as I don't have several on stand by, I can't speak for that either.  What I can say is that it's a very attractive pen.

Solid in feel, but not heavy, coming in at 20g, but with the thickness of the barrel, it feels as if it should weigh more than it does.  The cap is a screw top, as is the rear of the pen, and it's here that I have an issue, the screw is made from the same acrylic, and it doesn't always seat in the thread first time.

It's not a massive inconvenience, but whereas with a metal screw, you wouldn't worry about damaging the thread quite as much, with this, there's the concern that if you pushed a little too hard, you might crack or wedge it in.  In comparison with the solid nature of the rest of the pen, this seemed out of place.

It takes standard international cartridges and comes with a convertor, the nib is a Jowo with the Manuscript logo etched on to it, so the flow is as good as you would expect.

It's a comfortable size for someone with larger hands to write with, the barrel is wide all the way along and while you can post it, it does effect the balance with some significance due to the overall lightness of the pen.

When it came to writing with the pen, I have no hand for italic writing, so I handed over to my wife, who was gracious enough to put this down.

It flows well, and while thirsty due to the size of the nib being used, it has a well controlled flow and doesn't blob on the page at any point, something very useful when I came to write the second sentence in my slower handwriting.

It comes in a good, solid box with a letter explaining all about the history of the pen and everything else to do with it, but the excellent quality of the box only had me thinking that they could have spent the time and effort on finishing the pen in the same way, and they'd have had a true contender.

The ML1856 retails at £125, which puts it in the same price point as Platinums #3776, Cross's Century II, Pilot's Capless, and Diplomat's Excellence.  The feel of it is similar to that of the Namisu Nova, only half the weight (and almost twice the price), and as I'm many will have guessed, I don't feel this to be in the same league as the pens at the same price point.  If you like large pens that don't feel like dumbbells when you pick them up, this is excellent, it's a good nib, and the distinctive colouring of it makes it stand out well from most other things, for me, it's a little style over substance.

As always, I didn't buy this pen, it was provided so I could provide a review for it.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Notebook Reviews - Silvine Originals

A short while ago, one of the notebooks I was given to review struck a chord on a number of levels, this was the Silvine Pocket notebook, impressing me with the combination of superb paper, excellent binding, and reasonable price point.

It turns out that the Pocket is not the only Silvine notebook out there, there’s a whole family, and they come in a range to suit anyone. 

As always, in advance, I did not pay for these notebooks, they were given as a sample in return for an honest review.

The thing about Silvine notebooks, whichever size they come in, is that the paper is excellent, it’s just absorbent enough to bite, but it doesn’t drink the pen, and as those who know me will attest, paper than can hold the ink without having the whole cartridge is very important to me.  To demonstrate this, I had friends over the weekend, and as the lady in question needed a new fountain pen, I decided to carry out the consultation on one of the notebooks given. 

This is the Project Notebook

Light blue five millimetre squares on one side and blank on the other to allow a combination of illustrations, diagrams, and writing (in whichever orientation you prefer), I let the lady loose, and as she is an enthusiastic bunny (Sorry H, but you are), she proceeded to try all the pens and many of the colours.

With the following results

And the page after

Bleedthrough, even when using the Kanji brushes, is minimal, and if you’re looking at the page rather than photographing it under high light, it’s almost non-existent.

This for me is at the core of the Silvine appeal, the paper is almost without equal, thicker and more resilient than Tomoe whilst retaining the tactile quality that allows writing using any width nib with equal efficiency.

That said, the notebooks I use tend to come in two different sizes, huge, and tiny, and Silvine do a number of others.

This is the Exercise book, harking back to the days of school (At least when I was a kid) when most books came with a margin built in, or had one drawn in biro to split the page up. A5 in size, same quality paper, perforated down the edge and coming with a backing board to let you write on any surface just in case you don’t have an old style desk handy.  Not to be confused with the lower quality books that we got to use at school, just in case anyone remembers the cheap and cheerful silvines we had to use back then.

This is the Notebook, 190x125 mm, it’s just a little smaller than a moleskine notebook, same perforations in the side and while blank (not a bonus for me), it’s a good size to carry around.

The Pocket I’ve already gone into on another review, but it remains part of my every day carry, just for jotting things down and storing them in the Fauxdori for use later.

All of these are available from, they are more expensive than most notebooks, the Pocket is £6.50 for 3, the Memo is £4.50, the Note is £6, the Exercise £7, and the Project £14.  However, other notebooks don’t have the level of quality that these books do, and getting fountain pen quality paper in a regular notebook is a rare enough occurrence, getting it in the larger sizes is all but impossible.  The only one of the notebooks that I’d hesitate in buying again would be the Project, and that’s because for the same price, I could get a new Leuchtturm, and I have a thing for hardbound notebooks.

The last thing is the Story book, which isn't actually a notebook to write in, but a written history of the notebooks, where they came from and where they're going.

Fascinating to read through, but ultimately not a notebook, however, I am cheered by the notion that even with so long out of circulation, they're back and going strong.