Origins Of An Ace Oddity: The Blogger Recognition Award!

Yay, Let The Word Go Forth! Bradscribe Is Officially Awesome! 

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“Omnium rerum principia parva sunt [Everything has small beginnings]” – Cicero.

Thanks to Michael J Miller @ mycomicrelief for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Michael not only writes consistently brilliant reviews of comic books, but is a superhero ‘imself, having decided to take a stand on the side of Truth and Justice and SPEAK OUT about what is happening to his country. His site is well worth a visit or three! It’s ram-packed with goodies and he’ll be pleased to see you!

It’s always a thrill, and a great honour, to be recognised – and highly regarded – by your fellow bloggers; and it only seems like yesterday when I nominated him for the Mystery Blogger Award!

Personally, February is always the most trying month for me – this year’s has brought its own extraordinary events (best left unmentioned); writing usually pulls me through hard times, but considering how substandard the drafts produced during this past frenzied fortnight are, well… (best left unpublished! – most unlike me, innit?!)

Michael’s unexpected – and uplifting – congrats message this week could not have come at a better time.

Bless yer heart, amigo!

Anyway, here are the rules for the Blogger Recognition Award:

1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2) Write a post to show your award.
3) Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4) Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5) Select other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6) Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

Right, how in blazes did all this madness begin?

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“A beginning is a very delicate time” – Princess Irulan. 

Know then that it is the year 2555.

Living in a predominantly Buddhist country, that was what it said on our Buddhist calendar.

You knew it better as 2012. 

Early in that year, after yet another dispiriting reply from a prospective editor – more of a “better luck next time,” rather than an outright rejection – he wanted to see “my blog.” Such a platform had frittered away @ the back of my mind for a few months, but that provided the impetus to get it started. 

Every good writer needs a portfolio of work; without anything in print/online – it was imperative to sort something out. And PRONTO.

But how?

This involved swottin’ up on specific technical gubbins from scratch. Having downloaded the necessary How To files, well…. sheesh, it might as well have been in Lithuanian – none of it made any sense. Weeks – then months – passed and the stalemate had not shifted; it wasn’t until eventually watching a YouTube vid over and over again did the rudiments of blogging finally sink into my stubborn noddle.

And then… hey! Holy Danish inter-lockin’ blocks, Bradman!

Now yer ready, whaddya gonna write about?!

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“Ready are you? What know you of ready…? This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph! Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!” – Yoda.

Brad won’t fail ya – Brad‘s not afraid. 

In the beginning, my Very First Post irresistibly concentrated on my unique background back then: living on the Gulf of Thailand. A world traveller with 5,000 Followers, producing Posts attaining 300 Likes each, Liked me straight away – instantly providing me with my own initial band of potential Followers to invite over to my site! It took only my second Post: Science Friction to collect NINE Likes – wow, methinks, this bloggin’ lark’s a doddle…

Even @ that initial stage, SF had not become my main focus, but after scant success with other Posts delving into various other beloved topics such as history, coffee and whatnot, SF became the official theme of this blog. Over 150 Posts – produced in three different countries – have carried the Brad Seal of Awe Since 2013. 

When my laptop’s screen went on strike last July, the remainder of ’16’s Posts had to be prepared @ a few Public Libraries in the local region.

One morning, while compiling one of my more ambitious Posts, one crusty, dreadlocked youngling – with skateboard in hand – leaned in, having recognised Arsene: our cute bunny forever immortalised as my Gravatar. 

“Hey, I really dig that site! It’s-” 

Upon seeing me activate my Dashboard, he gawped.

“Blimey Charley!” he chirped in amazement. “You- you’re Bradscribe?!” 

“What, didn’t think I wuz this ridiculously good-lookin’ in real life, huh?” 

After being evicted from the building (hey! you’re not allowed to natter in libraries) we skedaddled to the nearest coffee den.

“I wanna blog, man,” the rapscallion sniffed. “How can I be as successful as you?” 

“Well, two tips must ye learn to become a successful blogger… but first, m’young an’ eager padawan, help yerself to some ginger cake.”

Ah yes, the CAKE – hoo-boy, he LURVES a scrumptious slice a’ sveetness aound ‘ere, doesn’t ‘e, eh?!

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“Okay, first of all, you’re copying me from when I said I had a plan… And secondly, I don’t think you even have a plan!” – Rocket Raccoon. 

“No, really, kid – THESE are the TWO most important essential titbits I reckon ya need:

1). Be a friendly host

“Blog it and they will come!”

Nah, no matter how awesome your writing, there is no way to ensure that any readers will immediately swing by. Remember, MILLIONS of of blog posts are produced DAILY, so you have got to get out there and invite them over. 

And when other like-minded bloggers folla the courtesy of leaving a kind Comment, always reply: thanking them and generating a rapport. So they feel obliged to come back for more. The few times me Comments have appeared on newcomers’ sites, only to be ignored; not surprisingly, they vanished from the blogosphere soon after… 

ALWAYS reply, ya dig?! 

And:

2). DON’T pick yer nose while I’m explainin’ this to ya – jeez, man! 

Are ya done…? Good.

2). Be unique

A hefty proportion of those countless blog Posts are movie reviews – some are so formulaic it’s all too easy to get confused as to which blogger is which. Not only blog about what you love (and love whatchu blog), whatcha write should represent YOU as an individual: your thoughts, your interests, your personality.

In order to stand out from all those MILLIONS, it’s best ta produce something different – something distinctive. 

Be unexpected, unusual and – oh yes -unique. 

And if all else fails, it ‘elps ta offer them something irresistible. Hence, the cake…

“All the best to ya, kid. Good luck…”

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“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood. Once, I was a cop. A road warrior searching for a righteous cause. As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who had more cake… me… or everyone else…” – Max Rockatansky. 

As the rules for the Blogger Recognition Award stipulate no number of Nominees, we’ll go with my lucky number: 7.

So, all you lucky Nomineesmy (whisper it: all-female!) Magnificent Seven– time to stand and save a Mexican village from bandits and be recognised!:

boxofficebuzz

byhookorbybook

cafebookbean

livingabeautifullife

morganhazelwood

recoverytowellness

wordsforeverything

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Cheers!

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Fifty Years On Arrakis: The Source Of The Spice

The spice exists on only one planet in the entire universe, a desolate dry planet. 

The planet is Arrakis, also known as Dune.

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“Deep in the human unconsciousness is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic” – Frank Herbert. 

“These waves [of sand] can be every bit as devastating as a tidal wave,” Frank Herbert – then a freelance writer concentrating on ecological matters – stated in one article pitch during 1959. He was referring to the sand dunes of Florence, Oregon, and the relentless way they shifted eastwards, “pushed by strong winds off the Pacific.” 

His interest in this topic led to research into deserts and desert cultures, eventually inspiring him to draft two short novels, serialised in Analog Science Fact & Fiction. He later reworked the material into a single volume, which has led some critics – even this year: the fiftieth anniversary of its initial publication – hailing it as the finest science fiction novel of all time.

In the far future – the actual year consists of five digits – Arrakis is the only known planet to produce the most precious substance in the universe: the spice melange. 

The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness.

It also induces an “enhanced space-time perception”; aliens known as the Guild Navigators use the orange spice gas to fold space, thus travelling to any point in the universe without moving. 

It is highly addictive, capable – after ingestion – of turning the eyes of any user a deep blue. Spice mining comes with the major hazard of attracting colossal sandworms about several hundred metres in length. This most prized commodity is integral in maintaining the transport, supply and communication networks of Shaddam IV’s Empire. 

Paul Atreides: son of Duke Leto of the House of (the somewhat-Homeric) Atreides turns out to be their messianic leader: Muad’Dib, as foretold in ancient prophecies. Endeavouring to irrigate the deserts and regenerate the planet’s life-system, he sets out with his band of Fremen warriors – an indigenous nomadic race – to halt all spice production on Arrakis. 

Essentially, Herbert was promoting environmental awareness long before it ensnared mainstream sensitivities.

DUNE VI by HR Giger
DUNE VI by HR Giger
Character designs for Jodorowsky's Dune, created by French artist: Moebius.
Character designs for Jodorowsky’s Dune, created by French artist: Moebius.

“The way in which ecological relationships are made to stand for supernatural ones makes Dune one of the archetypal examples of fashionable ecological mysticism, and this may help to explain its great popularity” – Brian Stableford. 

There are strong hints of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars fantasies and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation saga, as well as touches of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman space operas in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Having studied Jung, Herbert met, in 1960, Alan Watts, a prominent advocate of Zen philosophy. “Long conversations” ensued. The basic sci-fi premise, distant in both time and space, gradually appropriated deeper, temporal, psychological and spiritual dimensions.

At some point this Winter, one challenge on my list is to watch Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013): a critically acclaimed documentary about the greatest SF cinema masterpiece never made. It would have made for a formidable production: both HR Giger and Moebius provided concept art; Orson Welles and Salvador Dali were persuaded to take prominent roles; and Pink Floyd would provide the soundtrack. 

Instead, we have David Lynch’s opus, (in)famous primarily for dividing critics and fans. Having completed a version several hours in length, the producer Dino De Laurentis wanted it cut down to just two. Lynch baulked at the idea and protested to have his name removed from the final print. Some regard this huge box office disaster as the Worst Film of 1984. 

No matter what the detractors of Lynch’s film might say about it, its visual effects – particularly its assortment of matte paintings – creature and costume design, some ornate sets, plus Lynch’s own distinctive surreal touches, make it, for me, a quite engaging spectacle.

It is ironic to think that not only did Jodorowsky’s Dune fail to get off the ground, but the original Dune novel almost never materialised at all neither! Firstly, 400 pages in Hardback, and then a whopping great flopping paperback tome of 900 pages, this is when publishing houses preferred brevity above all.  Nevertheless, it won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. 

Not surprisingly, Herbert had to deal with twenty rejections before his hefty manuscript was eventually accepted in 1965 by Chilton, a Philadelphia-based trade and hobby magazines publisher – home of the unsurpassable Dry Goods Economist(!)

A HD still from the 1984 film, featuring one of Albert Whitlock's finest matte paintings.
A HD still from the 1984 film, featuring one of Albert Whitlock’s finest matte paintings.

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“Paul Atreides is a young white man who fulfils a persistent colonial fantasy, that of becoming a God-king to a tribal people. Herbert’s portrayal of the ‘Fremen’ owes much to TE Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger’s enthusiastic portrayals of the Bedouin of Arabia’s Empty Quarter” – Hari Kunzru. 

In my horde of dust-gathering SF novels, there is Children of Dune, the third volume in the series, which just happened to be (back then) a rather laborious slog. It had failed to inspire me to read the original, but now – in this half-century anniversary year, and now blessed with a more sensible stock of patience and maturity – it would be appropriate to finally catch up with it, and assess for myself whether the “greatest SF novel ever” tag is warranted.

Herbert’s incorporation of Bedouin traits into the Fremen culture – even the use of such terms as razzia, bourka robes and jihad – holds more potency now in 2015 than it ever did in 1965. 

On a personal level, there is something irresistible about desert planets in sci-fi. Perhaps Tatooine in Star Wars – blatantly inspired by Arrakis – got there first. Look at Uncle Owen’s moisture farm: ripped straight from Herbert’s ecological leanings. The desolate terrains vividly – and colourfully – designed by such iconic artists as Eddie Jones and Peter Andrew Jones remain particular favourites. Yet no matter how individualistic those visions were, there is something about these desert scenes that will always link back psychologically to Frank Herbert’s Dune. 

In the original novel, the First Planetologist of Dune, named Kynes (incidentally the main protagonist of the very first draft) pondered this:

“Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase… The question is not how many can possibly survive within [the planetary ecosystem], but what kind of existence is possible for those who survive?”  

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