Having recently had all the excitement of having my first android Sci- fi short story published at the amazing Pulp Metal Magazine, people have been asking – have you been watching Humans? In fact I hadn’t at the time I wrote Perfect Love, but of course, I couldn’t resist watching the series now that my story has been published; and it really was excellent, although I am glad that I didn’t watch this while I was writing, in case it influenced me too much!
The first thing that struck me on watching the first episode of Humans was the similarity in the opening scene set in the android warehouse, with and the very first Dr. Who episode I ever watched. That memorable episode, which was the first to feature with the wonderful actor Jon Pertwee as Dr. Who, had a storyline with terrifying Auton mannequins, who had come to life after a mysterious meteor storm. The Autons are completely devoid of emotion and were truly terrifying to their unsophisticated 1960’s TV audience. I think it was probably their complete lack of humanity which seemed so frightening; that something which looked like us, but didn’t feel anything, was capable of such merciless brutality.
The brilliance of new series, Humans, is the essential humanity of the androids, which appear to be much similar to us humans than the Autons. For most of the time we are left wondering, how much they actually feel and if it really possible to fully control something which is made specifically in our own image, and yet appears to have a life-force of its own. Are these androids, as in the Dr. Who programme, really a dangerous threat to the survival of mankind? Obviously in true cliffhanger tradition, we will have to watch the next series to discover their real agenda…
My android short story, Pefect Love, is set in the future of 2033, where android companions are a luxury as well as a growing market trend for international sales. A global manufacturer and distributer of companion androids decides to initiate an experiment to introduce human feelings into an android male – with devastating results… If you missed the story first time around, you can catch it here, with this link: Perfect Love
My novel, Buried In The Hills is a murder mystery set in the not-so-sleepy village of Vorokvadia, Cyprus. The fictional village is a combination of my own village Oroklini and the neighboring village of Lvadia. The photos, above, are of places which feature in my novel; it is a beautiful Cypriot village with the hills rising behind it descending to the seashore in front. The village has a lot of old world charm as well as its fair share of stories, some of which have been incorporated into this fictional story.
The village has a easy going, forgiving nature, but cross the boundaries of what is a considered to be acceptable and old style village justice may emerge, which can be just as real now as it was in the past. There is a saying in the village that “nobody knows how many bodies are buried in hills,” and that was the inspiration for this story….
The novel, which is the second featuring my detective D.I.FLynn reads as a stand alone novel – so it’s not necessary to have read the first in order to enjoy the second.
If you would like a FREE copy then please follow the links to Amazon: I do hope you enjoy it!
Shaped like a giant lotus flower, the sacred symbol of the Buddha, Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Set inspiringly, amongst the lush rice paddies in the centre of the Indonesian island, the structure of the temple is unique. It is shaped like a huge pyramid overlooking a sacred plain and it is a both a physical representation of Buddhist cosmology and a place of pilgrimage. The pyramid is stepped, in 6 rectangular story’s, topped by 3 circular terraces and a central domed stupa, forming the summit. The monument has 3 distinct sections: the lowest level symbolises the physical world, or World of Desires, and is called the Kamadhatu; the second level is the Rupadhatu, the World of Form, a transitional sphere in which humans are released from their physical bodies. The highest level of ascension is the Arupadhatu, which is the World of the Formlessness, the sphere of enlightenment. Pilgrims’ follow a path that circles around the monument in a clockwise direction: following a meditative journey to its summit. The temple was founded around AD 750 and was for a while, the islands main spiritual centre, although it was eventually abandoned due to its proximity to the erupting volcano, Mount Merapi.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The vast temple complex of Angkor Wat is the world’s largest and possibly most impressive religious monument. It has been classified as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It is Cambodia’s most beloved symbol and powerfully evokes the splendor of Khmer Civilization. The temple, which was originally Hindu, then became Buddhist, was commissioned by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, as his state temple and eventually his mausoleum. The scale of the temple is quite staggering, the central towering soaring 200 metres into the sky and the site is so large it could accommodate the Vatican State 12 times over! The temples’ design is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, which was belived to be the dwelling place of the Hindu gods and center of the universe. Its structure is layered, with access becoming progressively more exclusive with height; the common people were restricted to the lowest level, while the uppermost levels were reserved solely for kings and priests. The five towers on the highest level represent the peaks of Mount Meru, while the moat beneath symbolises the primordial ocean. Angkor Wat is best known for the extensive decorations which have been incorporated into its architecture, depicting interesting and significant mythological and historical scenes.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma
Known as the Great Dragon Pagoda, and also the Golden Pagoda, this 2,500 year old temple famously enshrines strands of the Buddha Guatama’s hair as well as many other religious artifacts. The temple is located west of the Royal Lake in Yangon, Shwedagon on Singuttara Hill and dominates the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of four past Buddhas enshrined within it. The Shwedagon Pagoda consists of hundreds of colorful temples, stupas and statues, which reflect the architectural era of over 2,500 years ago. It is a monumental work of art and architecture and a magnificent symbol of Buddhism to the Myanmar people. The glittering stupa is made of genuine gold plates, which cover the brick structure and are attached by traditional rivets. Myanmar people all over the country, as well as monarchs in its own history, have donated gold to the pagoda to maintain it. The practice continues to this day after being started in the 15th century by the Mon Queen, Shin Sawbu, who gave her weight in gold! The main stupa is encrusted with an amazing 4531 diamond; the largest of which is a 72 carat diamond! This temple is definitely one of the wonders of the religious world.
Wat Rong Khun, Thailand
Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand is unlike any other Buddhist temple in the world. The startlingly white, highly ornate structure is gilded in mosaic mirrors which shine magically, reflecting the light, to represent the Buddha’s wisdom shining out across the Earth and the Universe. The temple is designed in a contemporary style and was built in 1997 by the renowned artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat. Wat Rong Khun is not a traditional temple; the artist has reinterpreted Thai art for the modern world by constructing a surreal vision of Buddhist teachings with superheroes, movie stars and cartoons incorporated into the temple murals, enhancing traditional Buddhist motifs. Fantastical sculptures and architecture cover this amazing surreal landscape. But despite its modernism, every detail of Wat Rong Khun carries deep religious symbolism. Much of the temple’s teachings and messages refer to escaping desire, greed and passion and moving towards a state of the sublime, through Buddhist teachings. To reach the main temple hall, visitors must cross a bridge over an ocean of ghostly hands reaching up from the cycle of death and rebirth. The temple building symbolises the realm of the Buddha: rising to a state of nirvana.
Temple of Heaven, China
The Temple of Heaven is considered the most holy of Beijing’s imperial temples. It has been described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design”. It is a Taoist temple which was constructed in 14th century by Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (who also built the Forbidden City) as his personal temple, where he would pray for good harvest and to atone for the sins of his people. Being seen to pray was very important for the emperor as a bad harvest could be interpreted as a fall from Heaven’s favor! The design of the Temple of Heaven is very complex, in keeping with its sacred purpose; its design reflects the mystical cosmological laws which were believed to be central to the workings of the universe. Both the overall arrangement and the buildings, reflect the relationship between sky and earth, which was the crux of understanding of the Universe at that time. The entire temple complex is surrounded by two walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Both the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round, each standing on an ornate square, in order represent Heaven and Earth.
Joan Miró was a Catalan artist (born 1893 in Barcelona), who worked in many mediums producing art lithographs, murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces as well as being a prolific abstract painter. A visit to the Fundació Joan Miró is wonderful experience if you enjoy modern art.
The building in Barcelona is light and modern, with well apportioned gallery space and a very interesting selection of his work from the early realist paintings influenced by Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh though to his later Surrealist work. Joan Miró always instead that he did not belong to any specific art school, but his works exhibit a dream-like, subconscious quality which is indicative of the Surrealists. Throughout his life he developed a style which included cosmically symbolic elements; and there is a definable tension between the dream-like poetic images from his mind which are contrasted with the harsh realities of life in the real world…
In many interviews from the 1930s on-wards, Joan Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods, which he saw as a device to support a bourgeois society. He went on to declare an “assassination of painting” and decreed to upset the visual elements of established painting. At the time, this was no doubt seen as a radical and exciting mission to followers of the Surrealist movement!
His work from around 1937 took on a political meaning, but his wonderful constellations (as above) shifted the focus to the subjects of women, birds, and the moon, which dominated his iconography for a great deal of the rest of his career (he died in 1983).
* If you visiting for the first time the audio guide is in valuable as there is very little description next to the artworks, many of which are difficult to decipher without extra information. Please note that for purchase of the audio guide you will need documents or identification to leave at the desk otherwise a returnable deposit of 50 euros is required.
Casa Batlló is an outstanding architectural delight. Once the family home of Antoni Gaudi, the building has been restored with much respect of its architectural heritage, opening to the public as a private museum to the in 2002. It design is unprecedented in the architectural world, and on The Noble floor which was the main living space of the family, there is not a single straight line to be found anywhere The fluid, fluctuating textures of the walls echo the natural ebb and flow of the tide. Each softly curved surface creates the illusion of the building as a living, breathing creature, and at times it feels as if you are inside a giant beautiful mollusk, deep in depths of the sea.
A visit to the Casa Batlló is a wonderful surreal experience; the museum have used the latest technology to make each visit as informative and entertaining as possible. The electronic guide, which is the same size as an iPhone, contains extra effects and images to show how the rooms would have looked completely furnished, when Gaudi lived there.
The building is surprisingly light and airy. Its central structure contains a beautifully tiled vertical shaft to a decorated window situated on the surface of the Dragon Roof Terrace, which provides both light and internal ventilation. Not one of the tiles has a straight surface and the carefully coordinated colour gradient gives the impression that it is as light at the bottom as the top!