The Wizard of Words

Snarlzog, the Great Evil Overlord, sat upon his throne of bones, contemplating victory. He had read TVTropes’ article on the subject of being a genre-savvy villain, and had deftly avoided every trap imaginable to man.

He wielded the MacGuffin of Infinite Power. He had succeeded where so many had failed. All his enemies were either ___ or pacified, all his allies richly rewarded.

But as he pondered the absolute nature of his success, a small gnome (wielding merely a pencil) materialized out of thin air. Snarlzog immediately pointed the MacGuffin of Infinite Power at the stranger, and willed destruction upon this sudden apparition.

‘Why are you pointing at me?’ the stranger asked.

‘I have the – Wait. No!’ Snarlzog suddenly realized that there ___ nothing in his hand.

‘Oh, I crossed that out,’ the gnome said cheerfully. ‘Seemed like an awful lot of power. Not terribly safe, so I figured I might as well dispose of it. Say, you seem awfully upset. Do you want a cookie?’

_____, true to his tradition of leaving nothing to chance, summoned his army with a snap of his fingers. They surrounded the gnome, weapons gleaming and ready to kill him.

‘Put down that pencil! Now!’

The gnome dropped his magic weapon. Then he winked at you. ‘Good day to you, reader. As you no doubt have guessed by now, I am a master of metatextual magic. Observe! I shall take a word from the second paragraph, another word from the second piece of dialogue, and then a third one from the seventh paragraph. Now to put them all together, in the right order, of course….’

Snarlzog was dead.

The army gasped and gaped at the corpse of their Evil Overlord, allowing the gnome to make a quiet and unobstrusive escape. And as the gnome hopped onto his faithful Shetland poney and rode off at a quiet pace into the sunset, he thought aloud: ‘Verily, the word is mightier than the sword. Who’d have thought that removing a single letter could make such a difference? Ah, well, my job here is done.’

And so the Wizard of Words continued upon his endless journey, everlastingly optimistic, forever undefeated. And so our story — for now — draws to a close.

Advertisements

Preorders open for ‘Outfox’

After years in the works, I finally got my first novel, Outfox, into Smashword’s Premium Catalogue! It’s now available for pre-orders at most ebook retailers (OverDrive, Kobo, Apple Books,  Barnes & Noble, and of course Smashwords)

Release date: October 29th, 2018

You can read my author interview at https://www.smashwords.com/interview/PHWade 

Outfox_cover_final

London, 2047. Hoping to eradicate crime altogether, Edna Stuart inaugurates an experimental police squad equipped with performance-enhancing technology. One of them, Howard Palmer, saves the life of Ruth Mackenzie, a small child with superhuman abilities. This is an act which will have greater ramifications than anyone could have expected, but meanwhile turns Palmer into a national hero and helps usher in the future of British law enforcement.

Twenty years later, Ruth is all grown up and has joined the London branch of the Enhanced Police Brigade, following in Palmer’s footsteps. But on Halloween, things are about to take a strange turn as a group of mercenaries attempt a full-scale assault upon a corporation controlled by the world’s smartest man.

As London turns into a battlefield, Ruth will have to finally come to terms with her true parentage if she hopes to survive. And Howard Palmer will finally come face to face with his greatest enemy yet : pure, unbridled anarchy…

Becoming an indie author!

Well, I’ve been working on a British scifi action thriller for quite some time — several years and two drastic rewrites! — and now I’m finally at the editing/publishing stage.  (At one point I was seriously considering making a short film based on my early draft, but the cost would have been prohibitive.)

After weighing the pros and cons, I’ve decided I’ll be publishing Outfox as an ebook on Smashwords.com — but hold your horses, I’m not ready yet! There’s still plenty to be done (pruning out the last typos, marketing, becoming more visible on social networks, writing my own author bio, tweaking my cover art…) before I can unleash it upon an unsuspecting world.

That’s all for now. I’ll be keeping you posted on how it goes. Cheers.

water droplet digital wallpaper
Photo by Sourav Mishra on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Thoughts on Film: Why short movies matter

Initially, when I joined the local film-making club, my idea was to learn the tricks of the trade. By making progressively longer and longer short films, I would eventually achieve my goal: a full-length movie of my own.

Since then, I’ve changed my mind.

Why?

Because I began to realize that not only did I enjoy making short films, I also realized that most stories – which in Hollywood would get a whole 2 hours worth of entertainment devoted to them – can be effectively and powerfully told in less than half an hour. To actually come up with a story which needs more than a hour to be told is actually hard.

But I also realized something else. I was bothered by the fact that there weren’t many short films which were both memorable and well-made. It was as if the people who made short films systematically considered that whatever the end result was going to be, it would never be as polished or as meaningful as a proper film.  A short film, for them, was nothing more than a technical exercise or a way to learn the craft through having fun with the medium.

The real catalyst, however, was when I got the chance to see a beautiful documentary about the Lumière brothers, edited together from a selection of their finest films. These film were delicate, poignant works of art which are still mesmerizing even today.

And none of them were longer than 50 seconds.

That was when I full realized that short films could be so much more than mere technical exercises. Short films had the potential to be their own art form, distinct from that of the feature film: a medium that sorely needed to be championed.

In this day and age, short films have the potential to reach a far wider audience than any Hollywood blockbuster. Freed from the need to propagate the accepted propaganda of the political lobbies which bring money to the film studios, those who make short films can express themselves in ways inaccessible to most professional filmmakers.

A great short film is far harder to achieve than a great feature film, in the same way that a great short story takes far more art and dedication to write than a full-length novel. In a short space of time, you need to create a whole world, draw the audience in, and never let go of their attention until the very last split second.

And that’s why short films matter.

But too many people believe that their short films have no value outside of their circle of acquaintances. Too many consider that, because of their ‘amateur’ status, they must forever place restrictions on what stories they can tell. Remember this: cinema has always been, and will always be, the art of making miracles appear in the audience’s mind. Cinema is made from magic tricks, from misdirection, assumptions, surprises and the occasional ‘where the hell did that come from?’.

That’s why I’m going to keep making short films. My new goal: to make full use of the medium, to prove that short films can thrill and entertain every bit as much as any blockbuster, and most importantly of all… to tell the tales I wish to tell.

La Flèche de Wheeler

This was a short story I wrote for a French short story contest whose theme was “the world of the infinitally small”. It didn’t win any prize, but I quite like it myself, so here it is for posterity’s sake.

(And yes, if you were wondering… I’m bilingual.)

 

LA FLECHE DE WHEELER

Au commencement était le Vide.

Ensuite, quelque chose surgit du Vide. Ce qui auparavant – si tant est que cette notion même eut du sens avant la naissance tumultueuse de l’espace-temps – était virtuel, devint soudainement réel. Il n’y eut pas d’explosion, pas de symphonie apocalyptique pour sonner l’avènement de la chose qui allait pourtant faire tout changer. Il n’y avait aucun être vivant pour regarder ce spectacle, aucune lumière dans le chaos primordial pour éclairer le miracle et le révéler au monde.

Elle n’avait pas de mémoire, car pour elle l’éternité tenait dans un seul instant. Elle n’avait pas conscience du monde qui l’entourait à présent. Et pourtant, elle avait un but, un destin hors de commun.

Telle une flèche sur sa lancée, elle traversa le temps, voyageant dans un univers morne et dénué de lumière, sans jamais s’arrêter. Dans le monde quantique dans laquelle elle existait, il n’y avait ni faim, ni soif, ni amour, ni haine. C’était un monde vide de vie, et pourtant elle était remplie de formes, de mouvement, de choses sans nom.

Elle continua à travers l’espace-temps sans dévier de sa trajectoire – si tant est qu’on puisse parler de trajectoire, car il n’y avait personne pour observer cette étrange odyssée – sans se douter que l’univers lui-même approchait de sa fin.

*

Et ailleurs, à une échelle infiniment plus grande, sur une planète insignifiante dans un système solaire proche de sa fin, l’humanité avait enfin abouti à une découverte qui allait tout changer. La gravité quantique avait finalement porté ses fruits, et la technologie aussi. Le voyage dans le temps était enfin possible.

Le premier essai était prêt: on allait envoyer une sonde dans le futur, et ensuite elle devrait retourner vers le passé avec des informations susceptibles de comprendre comment l’humanité pourrait survivre à l’extinction. L’idée était simple. Tout avait été prévu, semblait-il.

Le suspens était à son comble. L’événement fut suivi sur tous les réseaux et le médias de la Terre. La sonde avait été vérifiée et ré-vérifiée maintes fois. Et quand finalement, dans un petit crépitement, la sonde disparut dans l’espace-temps, il y eut un silence lourd de conséquences.

La sonde ne revint jamais. L’avait-t-on envoyée trop loin dans le futur? Personne n’a jamais su la réponse à cette question-là. Personne ne pouvait imaginer la vérité, si simple qu’elle fut.

*

A l’échelle quantique, d’innombrables milliards d’années plus tard, elle était toujours là, inconsciente du fait que le temps allait s’arrêter. Dans quelques instants, tout serait fini pour elle. Son existence même serait terminée à tout jamais.

Et elle ne le savait pas. Comment pourrait-elle imaginer sa propre fin, dans un monde où la pensée elle-même ne pouvait pas exister?

C’est alors que quelque chose d’autre surgit du vide, barrant sa route, l’empêchant de continuer.

C’est alors que pour la première fois de son existence, elle dut s’arrêter.

C’est alors – et au moment même où le temps était sur le point de s’arrêter à tout jamais – qu’elle intéragit avec l’autre. Un photon virtuel fut échangé entre eux. Et d’un seul coup, elle fut propulsée vers l’arrière. Vers le passé.

C’est alors que sa véritable destinée se trouva mise à nue. Car, en remontant le temps, elle se rencontra elle-même, et en parcourant le temps dans un sens et puis l’autre, elle créa la matière à partir de ce qui auparavant avait été le vide. L’histoire de l’univers lui-même se trouva bouleversée. Les quarks, les leptons, les noyaux, les atomes, les étoiles, les galaxies, les planètes, la vie toute entière entra dans ce nouveau monde.

Et tout cela grâce à un seul électron, qui faisait partie de la paroi métallique extérieure d’une sonde qui avait été envoyée trop loin dans le futur. C’était cet électron qui avait barré la route à elle, et ce faisant un paradoxe temporel avait vu le jour.

Tout cela fut soupçonné par une seule personne, mais tel un rêve, l’idée de Wheeler ne laissa qu’une petite empreinte dans l’histoire de la pensée humaine. La vérité est fugace: jamais elle ne se laissera attraper. Mais l’espoir continue à guider l’humanité, toujours et encore, par-dessus tout.