Five Stephen Hawking quotes -

23 11 2014

Five Stephen Hawking quotes that should make us readers (and even more so you writers) think again about some of the SF we read (or write!). The first is copied below. You can find the whole article HERE.

Hawking, without his wheelchair, floating weightless in the air in zero gravity

Hawking, without his wheelchair, floating weightless in the air in zero gravity

When one of the smartest people on the planet says something, it probably pays to listen.

Stephen Hawking, the physics icon and subject of the new biopic The Theory of Everything, has said a lot over the years in lectures and books. And some of them are, frankly, terrifying.

Here are five of his wildest quotes that just might change the way you view the world. 

  1. Hawking really doesn’t want us to meet aliens, because they’d probably destroy us.

We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach,” Hawking said in a 2011 Discovery Channel special. “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”


AVIGNON by Marianne Calmann

23 11 2014

Avignon coverThis is a strange book. There are so many different characters and so many different things going on that it reads more like a soap opera than a novel. But then the same might be said for that greatest of all historical novels “War and Peace”. We jump from Cardinal le Gor with his page and his moral problem (his relationship with his page) to Pope Clement with his sister and his health problems and his moral problem (he had feelings of guilt about what others called “his spendthrift ways”; for instance he had spent billions trying to make Avignon and the Palais des Papes more beautiful and impressive than anything in Rome); to Thoros Bonivassin, the Jewish physician who is summoned one night to the Pope’s bedside then disappears; to Blanchette, Thoros’ beautiful sister-in-law, who is in love with him, not Astruc, her husband, Thoros’ brother; to the high official in the Pope’s household who is obsessed with a Jewish woman (that same femme fatale, Blanchette) and fathers a son on her, then undergoes a terrible penance for this “sin”. And many, many more.

The scene switches from one to the other and back again as we follow their lives and get to know them all and to feel at home in Avignon (and especially in the Papal Palace and the Jewish ghetto known as the Street) during 1347-8, the year leading up to the arrival via Marseilles of the Black Death. The last third of the book shows how they respond in their various different ways to this catastrophe. Should Thoros, the physician, go into Avignon or remain in the Street (which will be sealed off). Should they flee the Street and Avignon?

Great history if not great art (though I’m not too sure about that distinction), well written and, as I say, full of people. Highly recommended to those who feel curious about medieval Avignon, and life (especially life for Jews) under the French popes. After reading this, you would feel at home there.


14 11 2014


No time for a full review, but Desecration has been described as a book that takes the reader on a journey to hell and back. It does, and the hell here is real-life horror, not fantasy horror.

It is the most original police procedural I have ever read (with the possible exception of Mark Billington’s Helpless) and DS Jamie Brooke, whose only real family is a 14-year-old daughter approaching the end in a hospice for the terminally ill, is the police officer / detective I most closely identified with (with the possible exception of Lynda La Plante’s Lorraine Page). Greater praise I cannot bestow.

I shall definitely be reading the sequel, Delirium, and in the meantime am starting on Pentecost, the first book in J. F. Penn’s other series, the ARKANE thrillers, which has been sitting in my Kindle for a while. I didn’t know who the author was. Now I do, and she is a great discovery.

10 of the Most Powerful Female Characters in Literature

6 11 2014

Here are two of my favourites from the list of ten. Click on either image to see the complete list.


Hester Prynne – The Scarlet Letter

Hermione - the Harry Potter books

Hermione – the Harry Potter books

Author Spotlight: An interview with Ruth Warburton

6 11 2014

Originally posted on Witch ramblings:

Author Spotlight


 It is great to have you with us, Ruth, and we are all eager to know about you and your books! I for one, am a huge fan of your work and having read them all, I want to know a lot more about you.

1. First of all, let’s talk about your Winter trilogy. How did you come up with such an excellent ideaA-Witch-in-Winter-jacket-195x300

Hi Malika, thank you for having me! Well… I have answered this question in lots of different ways because truthfully there were lots of different seeds to the Winter trilogy but the basic core of it came from one day when I was listening to the radio and it was a discussion about romance novels, and the commentator was saying how hard it was to write a convincing romance in the 21st century because you need a good reason for the…

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Dorothy Nimmo’s THE WIGBOX

1 11 2014

A review of a favourite poet of mine posted by another poet, James Munro, on his blog. I agree with every word he says.

The Wigbox - Dorothy Nimmo

When I first came across Dorothy Nimmo, I thought she was like Sylvia Platt – only more so.

Mother has made you a house to live in
and she’ll make sure you live in it.
Mother has made you a bed to lie on,
she’ll cut bits off you if they don’t fit.

The obsession with pleasing – and being unable to please – her parents. The ever-present temptation to suicide.

Lying in the warm soapy water I do not
slit my wrists. I take only one sleeping pill.

The feeling that she shouldn’t be here at all – that it’s the wrong part in the wrong play:

This is the dressing-room I know is mine,
when they begin I’ll recognise my cue.
For God’s sake tell me, what’s the opening line?
Who am I? What am I supposed to do?

When they begin I’ll recognise my cue.
You’re on! they whisper and I face the light.
Who am I? What am I supposed to do?
Forgive me, mother. Have I got that right?

My voice is strangled. I’m awake. I shout
I know there’s something I must do today
and I can’t do it. You must write me out.
It’s not my part and this is not my play. 

But see the whole of this wonderful poem – “Dream Play” (below)

She had been an actress, spent ten years on the stage. Now as a poet and person she was not even one of the audience. She was outside the theatre in the dark, peering in through a window.

I was getting smaller and smaller

Read the whole review HERE.

Dorothy Nimmo - Wigbox cover

Carl Sagan quote

1 11 2014

Sagan quote 2


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