Monday, 27 November 2017

Gerald the Archdeacon

This is the second part of a series on Gerald of Wales, probably the most famous and influential Welshman in the twelfth century. Last week was about his early life.

When Gerald returned to Wales in his late 20s with a distinguished degree from the best university in Europe he set himself a mission to reform the Church in Wales. He had the latest ideas from Paris and was determined to improve the lax and old-fashioned institution. Supposedly celibate priests openly kept wives, and knights and princes took the priests’ income and sold off church lands to make money.

The first to experience Gerald's reforms were those inhabitants of Pembrokeshire who refused to hand over the tithes of wool and cheese due to the church. Gerald obtained a special mandate from the Archbishop of Canterbury and rode about the area collecting the tithes. When the powerful sheriff of Pembroke defied him, Gerald immediately excommunicated him, forcing him to submit to a painful beating before the dreaded sentence was lifted.

Modern Day Science Fiction

In looking at the history of science fiction we ended last week with modern films, but of course science fiction is also thriving in books and on TV. There is even a dedicated TV channel called, for some strange reason, Syfy.

Gifted (TV)

Along with fantasy and zombies the whole area of speculative fiction is very popular. As progress in many fields grows exponentially, people are drawn to ideas about what will happen in the future. Another area of growth is the superheroes / special powers stories that started in comics. I'm currently watching Inhumans, Gifted and Iron Fist amongst other TV series.

I read about 60 books a year, at least 50 of them science fiction. I read on Kindle due to my disability, and as well as ebooks being cheaper than print, authors often run promotions where they discount their books or even make them free.

Intruders cover (396x546) (72dpi) Web

My novel Intruders is currently on promotion, priced at only 99p /99c until the end of November, so now is a good time to grab it.

It has become usual for authors to offer the first book of a series free, in the hope that you'll enjoy it enough to buy all the following books, and it has certainly worked with me on several occasions. I review every book I read so I plan to share some of the best with you. I don't claim to be an expert on modern science fiction books, but I can share the ones I'm reading. I also share some in my monthly newsletter, so you might like to sign up for that.

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Gerald of Wales: Early Life


Gerald of Wales
Gerald of Wales lived in the twelfth century and it is from him that we get a great deal of our information about that time. Seventeen of his books have survived to this day and are particularly interesting because he wrote about everything in his life, not always impartially, and passed comment on the people, the country, church life, politics and any other subject that interested him. He was one of the most fascinating figures of the medieval period, and I shall be writing about him for the next few weeks.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Science Fiction Films: Serious Questions 2

We are coming to the end of my history of science fiction. We have discovered that science fiction often plays on people’s fears, particularly of technology and the future. Modern science fiction films continue to address serious questions, as it has always done. This week we take a second look at the serious questions.

The Time Travellers Wife

Time travel stories used to be about what the person did when they got there. But what about the physical and emotional toll on the time traveller? The Time Travellers Wife (2003), the d├ębut novel by Audrey Niffenegger, looked at the strain on both the time traveller and his wife. It was made into a film in 2009.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Twelfth-Century Church in Wales

In the twenty-first century religion is a matter of personal preference, and many people have no belief at all. In the twelfth century most people believed fervently and the Church dominated not only the religion but also much of the public life, politics, and culture of Wales, as of other European countries.
Illuminated manuscript
Church leaders today may become well known in their sphere, but wield very little actual power, whereas in the twelfth century the bishops and abbots of the Church were among the rulers’ wealthiest and most influential leaders. They were a crucial source of potential support in men and money at a time when the Normans and the Welsh were still very much against one another and vying for land and castles.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Science Fiction Films: Serious Questions 1

We are coming to the end of my history of science fiction. We have discovered that science fiction often plays on people’s fears, particularly of technology and the future. Modern science fiction films continue to address serious questions, as it has always done.

Men in Black

The film Men in Black (1997) was based on a comic book series created and written by Lowell Cunningham, illustrated by Sandy Carruthers. This was a science fiction version of the American Immigration Service – there is even a scene where the Men in Black pose as IAS agents. Maybe the authorities are only trying to protect us.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

End of Writing Tips

Writing

I’ve been posting writing tips on my blog for a long time, for two reasons. Firstly, I am learning the art and craft of writing and it seemed a good idea to share what I was learning as part of my writer’s journey. Secondly I hoped I could help other aspiring writers. But what starts as a good idea can become a drudge if you’re not careful.

I now have four history books, a poetry collection and a science fiction novel, all of which need promoting if they’re going to find readers. I’m writing the next novel in the science fiction series, and there are already two more outlined. And I have a life to live! Something’s gotta give.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The History of Wales

Now Medieval Gower Stories is published, I need to start giving my history fans some juicy bits to get your teeth into. While I’m casting around, I thought you’d like to remember the big series I did on Welsh history.
Hywel_Dda_at_Cardiff_City_Hall (w)
There was an item on the Welsh News one evening about Welsh children not learning Welsh history, so I decided to redress the balance for all of us who don’t know Welsh history. It’s just highlights, but it will give you quite a lot of reading. Here is the list of blog posts in order:

The Welsh – The Original Britons
The Power of the Druids 
The Celtic Saints 
The Good Lawmaker 
What's in a Name? 
The Ogre of Abergavenny 
The Sitting 
The Welsh Kingdom of Dehaubarth
Llywelyn the Great part 2, the Scandalous Affair 
The Last Prince of Wales 
Gwenllian, Llywelyn's Daughter 
The Conquering of the Welsh 
Wales is Full of Castles 
The Sleeping Prince 
Laws Against the Welsh
The Welsh Bible 
Mary Jones' Bible 
Jemima & the French Invasion 
The Daughters of Rebecca 
Industrial Explosion
Rape of the Fair Country
Sir William Lower and Astronomy
The Welsh Not
Wales in the First World War
Wales and the Second World War
The National Assembly of Wales


Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Science Fiction New for Old

Science fiction continues to innovate at the same time as harking back to old themes.

New for Old 1

In 1912 Conan Doyle wrote Lost World, where dinosaurs live on. In 1990 Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park, where dinosaurs are re-created. Steven Spielberg snapped up the film rights before the book even hit the shelves. The film in 1993 looked like a nature film at first, it was so realistic. Spielberg abandoned animated models in favour of new computer-generated creatures.