Mars. It’s a hell of a long way from Huddersfield.
Flint Dugdale, blunt Yorkshireman and reality TV star, has used his large frame and ‘persuasive personality’ to take charge of Britain’s first manned mission to Mars.
Little does he know that the base – built by an advance party of incompetent robots – is not quite ready yet, with no food, no water and no doors. Worse, the ship’s scanners are picking up strange signals from the surface.
There is life down there. But will it be pleased to see him?
A laugh-out-loud science fiction comedy that's a cross between Red Dwarf and The Martian.
SFcrowsnest (Longest running online SF review website)
"Some parts of the book had me laughing so much I had to literally put it down and step away."
Full review: http://sfcrowsnest.org.uk/the-worst-man-on-mars-by-mark-roman-and-corben-duke/
Jemahl Evans Author Blog
"...some very British humour, rattling along at a goodly pace, with short chapters and unexpected twists galore."
Full review: http://jemahlevans.wixsite.com/jemahlevans/single-post/2016/09/08/Review-The-Worst-Man-on-Mars-by-Mark-Roman-and-Corben-Duke
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The path was well worn, for they came in numbers.
To many, the journey had taken the form of almost religious homage. But for the majority, the subjugated, it was a feared and tortuous trek into the unknown.
Penance or penalty – who could tell? It mattered not.
Even those forced to accompany their masters on frequent trips were fearful of stumbling upon unexpected terrors. For this was an unforgiving land - a strange, soulless wood land, fraught with dread and trepidation around every turn. A land inhabited by a species of beings, shy by nature, who would gather in small groups but scamper into the darkened recesses when approached by outsiders. For it would seem they too were tormented by the unknown.
Colin had been here before, of course. Most of the village’s menfolk had.
But this particular command to saddle up the iron horse and prepare for a new venture into the living, breathing nightmare took him by surprise. Surely his master had laid sufficient sacrifices at the altar of Ingvar to last until the year end at least? Had their dues not been fully satisfied? What more could be required of them?
Colin’s hands were visibly shaking as he prepared for the journey. A survival pack was hastily replenished with revitalising fluids, spectacles, a mobile communicator and most importantly, cash. The god, Ingvar rewarded the offering of cash. This Colin knew only too well.
The short trip to the edge of the mysterious wood land passed quietly and the iron horse was securely stored in a place that would later become as difficult to find as the end of a rainbow.
Colin’s master led the way towards, and through the rotating gates to the place of nightmares. Colin took a deep breath and closed his eyes as, from somewhere deep within, he found the courage to follow.
Instantly, his heart sank. His knees trembled. His head felt as if it were being squeezed by a contracting band of steel. Experience, however, reassured him.
“Focus on the positive. Always the positive,” he told himself. If his master was in benevolent mood, there may be a reward at the end of the trek. Assuming he made it through unscathed, that was.
Trailing a discreet distance behind his master, Colin joined the sluggard masses. Eye contact with the other subjugates proved difficult, but when by chance glances were exchanged, he could see into the very souls of the others. They were neither dead, nor undead. They were caught in a twilight world where all emotion had been thwarted. Until they made it to the other side (if they made it to the other side) their minds belonged to their masters. Only the naïve or plain stupid would offer up opinions of negativity. Even those who opined what they considered a neutral indecisiveness would be ruthlessly smote down in a volley of retribution.
As they wandered deeper and deeper into the petrifying forest, their masters would casually pick up items for brief inspection, pat them, then cast them aside once again. Colin and the other subjugates, however, would become disorientated and nauseous. Their very existence lay in the hands of the masters. So long as they remained no more than a few steps behind, and didn’t let them slip out of sight, they knew it would all have to end. Eventually.
Focus. Envisage the end. How good will it feel when it’s all over?
And then it was.
Suddenly, the trail opened up. No longer was it a random path meandering throughout the heavily wooded area. It was now a straight, direct walkway through a deep valley, dwarfed on both sides by mountainous blocks erected in temple-like fashion – a place for final worship before leaving the kingdom of Ingvar.
The mood of Colin and the numerous other subjugates visibly brightened. Their pace increased. Their gait lightened. They were nearly home. All that remained was to wade through the wide, but traversable rapids.
It had been done before. This was do-able.
And there, in the near distance, the reward. Colin’s master gave that look. Simply translated, it meant: ‘Yes. Ok. You’ve been good. Go on.’
And Colin ran and Colin skipped over to the reward. Now – ice cream or hot dog? Or maybe some meatballs to take-away? Or some cinnamon rolls?
Weekend visits to Ikea were sometimes worth the grief.
Friday, November 23rd 1888
Doctor J. Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:
Here, as requested, is the first of my journal entries made last evening, detailing the events and our involvement in what must surely be our most grisly case yet. I believe at least one of the dailies is running with the headline 'Jack the Ripper', which I think is mere sensationalism, however, history will demand the truth...
Having been brought up to date in the brougham by the effervescent Sherlock Holmes, he and I made our way to Whitechapel. I began to list some aspects of the crimes reported via our friend Lestrade, Mr Lungcutter the police surgeon and constables Armstrong & Miller (first on the scene at the most recent murder). There have so far been five murders - including the two last night - and various items were found at each murder scene. These items include:
A bucket and spade left near the corpse
A quantity of porridge in the victim's breast pocket
A lock of hair tied round the victim's ring finger
The words - yore neckst - written in porridge across the victim's chest.
Several incisions have been made to the bodies of all the victims, leading Lestrade to believe the murders may have been committed by a crazed doctor. In fact, Lestrade even questioned me, albeit briefly, as to my whereabouts on the dates in question and is satisfied (thank God) that I am not a suspect. He is currently questioning several hundred Doctors to ascertain their movements.
We arrived at Jones the Butchers Yard and were able to inspect the murder scene. Holmes spent several minutes lying prostrate on the ground, examining the cobbles for evidence. Though the police claimed to have been quite thorough, Holmes discovered a quantity of what he suspected might be French tobacco and two cigar stubs bearing a royal crest.
My old war wound is playing up, so I shall continue this narrative in due course.
"That's lovely, okay, look this way, marvellous, hold it right there." I look around me to locate the source of the words ringing in my ears as I approach the grand, stately venue of this year's biggest event in the fashion calendar.
It crosses my mind that I might be about to stumble upon a fashion shoot as I enter the piazza, only to discover a group of amateur photographers jostling for pole position to get pictures of anyone among the cluster of people crowding the entrance who might be wearing something vaguely fashionable or different.
I stop and watch with amusement the parasites with their rocket-fuelled egos, posing and posturing for the camera-wielding onlookers and their ever-extending and retracting lenses.
From the author of We’re French and You’re Not and The Fur West, De Lancey entertains supreme as he distills cooking to the simplest of terms—from boiling water (and identifying the stove) to preparing timeless classics from every corner of the globe including scrumptious Beef Stroganoff and Greek Wraps with tzatziki sauce. Every recipe is followed by hilarious tidbits, such as, ‘King Louis XV ate boiled eggs every Sunday. This practice ceased with his death.’
Eat Me is a cookbook spiced with comedy, leavened with silliness while still fully informative and functional. A great read for anyone's kitchen.
We’re French and You’re Not is a hilarious romp focusing on the clueless French millionaire, Robert, and the effects of his diary on the conventional Wisconsin farm boy, Frank.
While in America, Robert and his constant companion Jean meet Henrietta Montcalm, a meek and nervous redhead. Their influence turns her into a feisty woman wanted by the police.
Henrietta decides to marry Robert and guides them toward a wedding Reno. Jean can’t stand the thought of Robert giving up his bachelor lifestyle, so naturally he tries to kill him. Neither Jean, a burning hotel, nor fighter jets stop Henrietta from marrying Robert and taking off for her honeymoon.
Along their way, they incidentally: squash the Queen’s dog, fly a small plane inside an airport terminal, run McDonald’s in a very French way, rent exploding furniture, open childcare in Mammoth Caves, establish a gourmet hospital, and drive their Geo Metro the wrong way in the Indy 500.
Sacre bleu, what fun things the Wisconsin farm boy learns about the world.
A grocery store can’t expect repeat business if its checkers unleash Armageddon. This truism governs Debbie Devil, dedicated supermarket checker and horny, estranged wife of Satan. Debbie sets her sights on Joe Thorvald, a God-fearing, Lutheran. If she can get him to eat a mushroom his soul and his hunky body will be hers.
Debbie tells her sidekick, Bertram, a British cook, to change Joe’s memory, body, circumstances, era, and life, until the Lutheran becomes a man who will eat mushrooms. But there will be only so many attempts on Joe’s soul before she unleashes Armageddon out of spite.
God sends the angels General Lee and Pedro Erickson, a Mexican-Swedish chef, to protect Joe. They fight back with Heaven’s culinary weapons, tacos and Swedish meatballs.
Along the way, Joe changes into a fun-loving dinosaur and a Greek warrior with an ass harder than bronze before being sent to Hell for nonpayment of his hospital bill. Can Lee and Pedro Erickson save the soul of a Lutheran hunk and prevent Armageddon? Ja caramba.
The refrain of Springsteen's "Born to Run" jangled on Jackie's iPhone as she peeled potatoes at her polished aluminum sink. She frowned at her reflection, tucked a curl behind an ear, and swore, "Porca puttana!"
Daydream interrupted by ringtone. She paused to wonder what her mother might think of Italian, cursing, and ringtones? Mrs. Clayton, now deceased, would have known about interruptions because that's a mother's life. And about daydream's because that's a woman's.
Jackie knew a little Italian because she was a singer and an Internet trawler bored with daily life conscribed, conscripted, and safe. Her new phone brought portable intrigue, Words with Friends, and calls to fling gossip around town. She no longer feared deleting Steve's business data on the desktop computer.
But this wasn't one of her friends calling. They knew not to interrupt supper chores. The song signaled Brandon, only child and light of her life, he of the never-ending energy since his first day on earth, calling to check in.
Jackie loved the song, her son, and the fact that he called her frequently, but not necessarily in that order and not at this time. In her reverie, she had been in Rome, skirt hiked to step into the Trevi Fountain, its cool water swirling her ankles. She wiped one hand on her apron and reached into its pocket for her phone.
"Hi, honey, I love you!" Jackie tried not to sound as perturbed as she felt. Farm ways didn't allow for unwelcome. "How's everything?"
"Mom, it's all turning to shit!" Brandon's stage whisper sounded like a shriek. "We're gonna lose our home. I'm scared to tell Dad. You gotta help me, Mom."
A request for help was expected - history did repeat itself - but her daydream whispered provocatively, "Come back to Rome!"
Jackie didn't speak. If there'd been a cat about, she'd blame it for stealing her tongue. The dog, Sparty, tail wagging to the beat of dairy chores, was in the barn with Steve.
"Mom. Mom. Are you there? I wanna see your face. Why won't you use FaceTime?"
"Brandon, you know your rural Michigan farmwife mom can't always look like the Avon lady. Hold on, will you? I'm fixing your dad's supper. I have a knife in my hand."
"OK. I'll call back in five." Brandon clicked off.
Jackie placed the phone on the new granite counter, gingerly because of the price of both. She dropped the knife into the sink and elbowed the faucet to a tepid blend of water to rinse and wipe it on a fresh dishtowel, then did the same with her hands. She beamed at the lengthy one-piece potato peel in the sink. It was a game she played to break the tedium of having peeled more potatoes than McDonald's.
Then Jackie strode to the fridge for iced tea, poured a tall glass, and took a gulp to further unlace her nerves. The kids' house loss was going to be most unsettling to Steve, her steady-eddy, church deacon, dairy farming man. Was she going to have to play go-between again?
Plotless, senseless, with little or no redeeming social value, Resumes That Work satirizes the seemingly endless stream of “How to get a job” psychobabble foisted on the weary job seeker through books, websites, conferences, and workshops each year.
This irrational little tome turns the basic job-search concept on its head working off the assumption that job hunters would really rather do anything but grovel for work.
That being the case, fictitious author Dave Doolittle outlines strategies to embarrass, infuriate, and alienate human resources, interviewers, and bosses, thereby insuring the reader will both avoid gainful employment and have a great time doing it.
Sections are included on writing resumes and cover letters, how to behave at interviews, what to do if you already have a job, and testimonials from satisfied customers. Both text and absurd illustrations – which are a mix of cartoon and reality – are littered with allusions to literature, film, art, and popular culture, adding a further dimension for those who like to puzzle such things out.
After more than 10 years and six books, including the national bestseller "I Went to College and it was okay," Jim is back with the new prequel, "I Finally Graduated from High School." Fans of the popular "Jim's Journal" comic strip have lived vicariously through Jim as he calmly and existentially meandered through college, a job, getting married, and making brownies. In this poignant new collection of comics, we join Jim as his adult life begins: through his final weeks of high school, a lazy summer, and going off to college. This special collection of droll and hilarious new comic strips rendered in Jim's signature minimalist style comes from "Jim's Journal" creator Scott Dikkers after a more than 10-year hiatus from the comic strip. It features all the weekday comic strips as well as the bigger Sunday strips created for the debut of "Jim's Journal" on Universal Press Syndicate's GoComics (www.gocomics.com/jimsjournal). Join Jim's fans on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jimsjournal.
I was with three dogs, all from the same household: Ozzie, a bouncy, athletic and energetic bearded collie cross; Gem, a lovely-natured little Staffordshire bull terrier; and Sam, a rather overweight, but ultra-sociable Cairn terrier whose short, stumpy legs struggle to keep his belly from trailing the ground.
In a country park, high in the hills that overlook Paisley and Glasgow, we were following our regular route. As normal, I checked each field for sheep and cattle before entering. Except, on this occasion the cattle were not apparent from the entrance and were actually ensconced in an obscured dip, around a bend.
The three dogs were off-lead and slightly ahead of me as they charged through the open ground. Well, Ozzie and Gem, at least – Sam was mooching his way around as usual, searching for scraps of discarded picnic food and leaving his scent-mark on just about every raised tuft of grass that he passed.
I knew something was wrong the instant all three stopped what they were doing and stood still. Gem threw me a look from over her shoulder which I loosely translated as:
“We’ve got a problem …”
Confronting us now, and quickly rising to their feet, were about twenty cows. Worse - they each had their young with them.
I returned Gem’s look, hoping she’d interpret it as:
“Keep calm, and walk slowly towards the woods.”
At least in there, I reckoned, the cattle would have no room to charge us, and if we were seen to be walking away from them, hopefully they’d realise we intended no harm to their calves.
The most vociferous of the herd was by now no more than four metres from me. She was snorting and stamping her front hooves on the ground. The others were becoming more animated and vocal as they circled us. I shot a look towards the wooded area, some fifty metres away.
The alarmed baying of the group in front of us had alerted a splinter-herd, who had been resting-up in the shade of the very same woods.
Gem slowly turned her head towards me, a quizzical look on her face. I think she was saying:
“What now, wise-guy?”
‘What now?’ indeed.
Well, Ozzie, being of nimble foot, had already made himself scarce and scarpered towards the bottom end of the field. Gem, ever so trusting, was still awaiting instruction.
Sam, completely unaware of any possible danger, decided he’d like to make friends with the cattle. This was not helping, at all.
A car stopped on the road that bisects the park, and the driver came to the fence around a hundred metres away. From his vantage point, down the slope from where we were cornered, he could see a gap forming in the herd. He shouted to me and pointed to where we should run.
And run we did – Gem close by my side.
It was, as I’d read in magazine articles, ‘every man and dog for themselves,’ as we, the faithful Gem and myself, raced through the break in formation. Sam, however was still dithering around with his new ‘pals.’
“Come on Sam” I hollered. “BISCUITS!”
That did the trick. His little legs were a blur as he tried to catch up, more afraid of missing out on a treat than the danger of being trampled and kicked to death by an irate cow or two.
We quickly reached the sanctuary of the road, where Ozzie was waiting:
“What kept you?” I could imagine him panting.
Chat with Authors
Topics, events and situations which shaped, influenced and molded my perceptions is what makes me write and what moves me as an author.
I cherish a video-like memory of my mother helping me with creative writing homework given by my beloved elementary school teacher, Mrs. Johnson. A half-dozen...
My mom and teachers in youth. In later years, beautiful language and life-changing stories whether from movies, songs, articles, or books.
Reading. Specifically, the world of fantasy. The book that did it for me was Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen, a tale of magic and mystery,...
I was amazed at the experiences of T.E. Lawrence, more famously known as Lawrence of Arabia. I couldn't believe how someone was able to become...
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When Glints Collide takes a group of unknown to lesser-known writers (myself included) and combines their talents into an eclectic anthology of Sci-Fi, Horror, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook Source: Audiobookworm Author: Miss Mae Narrators: Stephen Mendel, Dave Mallow, J.W. Terry, Toni Attell, Robin Riker Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes Publisher: