Author Archives: Alen B Curtiss

About Alen B Curtiss

Born in the southern counties of England, Alen has travelled extensively throughout the UK, living for a time in most of it's various different regions. Now settled in the Lake District, he has decided to dedicate his time to one of his greatest passions - writing. An avid reader, and a big fan of horror, fantasy, sci fi, adventure, and anything else in between, Alen has decided to write in all the various styles that he loves. As he has said - "They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. I say a journey into the fabulous unknown begins with the first word on a blank page."

All Our Tomorrows

For far too long I’ve been procrastinating about writing my own stories. The usual reason is that I’m too busy writing stuff for other people, and while this is somewhat true, it’s still just an excuse.

CompleteCover“Those reasons why you can’t are just excuses. There is always a way. No excuses, get it done.” Those words are mine, tweeted a few days ago. I think it’s time I started following my own advice for a change. So, though I’m not usually one for all the New Year’s resolutions malarkey, this year I have resolved to write a lot more for myself.

Those who know me know that I have been toying with the idea of releasing a short story collection, called Flotsam. It’s that which I’ll concentrate on, while also, from time to time, adding more words to A Negative Bind.

So, as a treat (I’m not sure “treat” is the correct word…), here’s the beginning of a short sci-fi/horror story which will be included in Flotsam.

All Our Tomorrows

Photo 31-08-2013 19 47 10We’re comin’ in too fast!” Benny wailed.

Well yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Why’d you think that would be then?” Cal surveyed the ruined console in front of him. Sparks spluttered in dark recesses – recesses where dials and readouts were supposed to be. Heading indicator, velocity readout, life support and system updates, fairly useful things like that. Acrid smoke drifted in the cockpit, redolent of burnt ozone and melted plasteel.

Benny clambered out of the navigator’s chair in the rear of the cabin, coughing in the smoky atmosphere, and made his way forward, finally dropping heavily into the co-pilot’s seat next to Cal.

Can’t you do summet, Cal? You’re the pilot, like, so can’t you do that flying shit you do?”

Cal grimaced and took a deep breath, immediately regretting it as a coughing fit followed. He looked over at Benny, wiping his streaming eyes as he did so.

No, Benny, I can’t do that flying shit that I do, ’cause we ain’t flying, we’re fuckin’ crashing.” His voice was calm, reasonable, but the look in Cal’s eyes revealed that all was not sweetness and light with the Captain at this particular moment in time. Benny flinched as Cal’s hand settled on his shoulder, squeezing it painfully.

And we’re crashing, Benny, ’cause we somehow managed to fly into a fuckin’ asteroid. Now, you’re the navigator, so why the fuck didn’t you do your navigating shit and navigate us around that fucker?”

Benny’s shoulder cracked audibly, and painfully, as the Captain’s hand squeezed harder still. Cal had paid a backstreet TechMech back on Khollos IV to replace the servo-motors in his worn out cybot arm with illegal Pluton powered ones, and he had revelled in showing off his mech aided strength ever since. At least he can’t blame me for losin’ his arm, Benny thought as he gritted his teeth against the pain. That was his own damn fool fault.

C’mon Cal, it weren’t my fault, I was busy…”

You were busy jerkin’ off to Cylerion porn, that’s what you were doing!” The spacecraft lurched alarmingly, and Cal released his grip. Benny gingerly rubbed his shoulder, convinced that something was broken. The lights clicked off, then back on again. A muted alarm began to wail somewhere behind them, and a soft, feminine voice politely advised them that they should evacuate the ship immediately. A single red light blinked on and off above their heads.

Shit!” Cal flicked a switch, flinching as it sparked and hissed, belching more smoke at him. “Double shit!”

Benny suddenly felt claustrophobic. The view screens were no longer working, damaged in the collision, and the cockpit now felt exceedingly small. He looked around fearfully, panic slowly slipping its icy tendrils into his stomach.

Cal? Captain? What…?”

Cal fixed him with a despairing look. “Mr. French, I believe that now would be a good time to make for the emergency pod. And then, maybe, pray.”

Benny didn’t need telling twice – he was out of his seat and on his way before the Captain had finished speaking.

* * * *

The two men sat on the ridge of a tall dune as the twin suns reached their zenith in the sky above. Cal surveyed the distant desert through the viewscope while Benny sipped tepid water from his aqua-pack. Three days had passed since their unexpected arrival on this world, their stricken cargo craft breaking up as it entered the atmosphere.

They had nearly roasted in the oven of their emergency pod as it too blazed a trail through the ozone. Gravity had taken over and they hurtled towards the ground, panic rising between them until, with a sudden jolt, the large ‘chute deployed, slowing their descent to a slightly less terrifying speed. Through the small view port the terrain below could be seen – sandy desert from horizon to horizon.

There’s definitely something there in the far distance,” Cal said, still looking through the viewscope. “I can’t quite make it out, it’s like a dirty smudge on the horizon.”

Not in a talkative frame of mind, Benny grunted by way of reply. Their relationship, strained at the best of times, had rapidly declined since the crash. He gingerly touched his left eye, wincing as his fingertips brushed over it. The swelling had started to reduce, but the pain lingered. He had escaped uninjured from the emergency pod, only to walk straight into Cal’s fist, with the full power of his cybot arm behind it. He was out before he’d hit the floor, and so missed Cal’s venomous tirade against him and second rate navigators in general.

Cal lowered the viewscope and looked at Benny. “A grunt? Is that all? Don’t you have anything useful to say?”

Benny took another sip, rinsed his mouth, and spat the water out, aware he was wasting precious fluid but not caring. “You can’t make it out, even with the viewscope. If you can’t see what it is, then what the hell am I supposed to say, Captain? I’ve only got me two eyes, and one of them is swolled near shut.”

Okay, fair point. But do you have any idea what it could be?” Cal unhooked the tube to his own aqua-pack and took a long sip, grimacing as the brackish water reached his mouth.

Benny scratched his head where his scalp was beginning to peel. He’d never been any good in the sun, his pale skin easily burnt even in the mildest of summers. So two suns glaring down on him from a cloudless sky was downright unfair, in his opinion.

Well? Anything?” Patience wasn’t one of Cal’s strong points.

Benny met his gaze. “It could be smoke.”

Cal’s eyes lit up. “Smoke! Yeah, exactly what I was thinking! When I was a kid the factories of Newchester looked like that, ‘specially from a distance. And if there’s smoke, then there must be people!” He was on his feet, scanning the horizon with his scope again.

To Benny, the presence of smoke, if that’s what it was, didn’t necessarily mean people. It could be due to any number of things. They had no idea what, if anything, lived on this god forsaken planet. The newest star charts referred to it only as AR159C – Possible Oxygenated Atmosphere – Unexplored.

We need to check it out. It’ll mean a long hike for us, but we can do it.” Cal slipped the viewscope back into its case and slung it over his shoulder. “We don’t have much of an option anyway, seeing as you broke the emergency radio.”

Benny lunged to his feet. “What d’ya mean, I broke the radio? The friggin’ thing ain’t worked since we left Khollos IV, ’cause you were too tight to get it serviced. That, and everything else on that bag of bolts you called a ship. The Federation should’ve grounded you years ago! Don’t you go blaming me for shit you caused just to save a few Creds!”

Cal was walking away, heading to their small camp by the emergency pod at the base of the dune. He stopped, and turned to look at Benny. His eyes were glazed, no sign of emotion in them whatsoever. Benny closed his mouth with an audible click and stepped back a pace.

I’m the Captain. Your Captain, Mr. French. What I say, goes. So if I say you broke the radio, then you broke the damn radio, okay? Good.” Cal turned and continued down the steep slope, sliding on the loose sand that sucked hungrily at his heavy boots. “Come along now. We need to make preparations.”

Benny stood and stared after his retreating Captain. Cal had always been on the wrong side of stable, and it looked very much as if he was losing control. Benny thought Cal becoming unstable, out here on this friggin’ never ending beach, would be a bad thing. A very bad thing indeed.

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Writing


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Fortnite: Battle Royale

The doors of the bus clank open, inviting you to disembark. You hesitate, unsure whether this is really where you want to get off. A deep breath, a shrug of your shoulders, and you step out, to plummet hundreds of feet down towards the ground below.

To your north, Loot Lake sparkles in the early morning sunlight. Greasy Grove lies to your west, close enough for you to be able to make out its individual buildings. You can see a dozen free-falling bodies heading in that direction, so you swing around to the east. Retail Row lies in the far distance, but Fatal Fields is closer. You adjust your heading and drop towards the farm.

As your glider deploys, slowing your descent to a less terrifying speed, you glance around. You can’t see any other gliders in the area, but you know that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. A long, red barn lies on the edge of the farmstead and you head towards it, sighing with relief as your feet finally touch solid ground. Rough planks of wood cover the barn’s entrance, but they prove to be no obstacle for your pickaxe. The old wood splinters and splits, and then you’re inside.

You’ve been here before, plenty of times, and you know there’s good loot to be found. But this time it seems your luck has run out. There isn’t a glowing chest on the shelf above the entrance. Damn. You run to the far end of the barn and enter a small room there. But again, no chest. What the hell? Back out into the centre of the barn you check the stalls on either side. Some bandages. A few shotgun shells. A couple of rocket grenades. And finally, a pistol with ammunition. At last! It isn’t the best of weapons, but it’s better than nothing.

Armed with the pistol, you pause, listening. Gunfire rattles in the distance, but it’s not close, and not in the direction you intend to head. All is quiet in your general area – no crash and crack as somebody demolishes the environment for building materials, no thump of running footsteps as an adversary looks for their own loot. Silence.

A quick check of you map ascertains the circle is to your north-west, but not too far away. There should be time for you to explore the other farm buildings, surely one of them will contain better weapons. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Another deep breath, and you’re off, scampering across the bare dirt towards the farmhouse.

Rat-tat-tat! The unmistakable sound of a burst-fire weapon rings out in the still air. Bullets thump into your back. You stagger, trying your best to turn around, raising your meagre pistol as you do so. You squeeze the trigger and your weapon fires with a loud report, the bullet flying away into the distance, not even close to hitting your assailant. Your health is dangerously low, you’re outgunned, but still you try to get off another shot, maybe you’ll get lucky.

Your attacker switches weapons as they approach, a pump-action shotgun now grasped in their murdering hands. You both pull your respective triggers at the same time. Your bullet hits the fence post next to your opponent. Their shot hits you full in the face.

Game over. You grin, swear at the RNG gods, and prepare to try again.

fortnite battle royale

The above describes some of my games in Fortnite: Battle Royale pretty well. Truth be told, it describes quite a lot of my games. I’m not very good at it, you see.

But does that matter? No, of course not. I find the game to be a lot of fun, and surely having fun in a game is a lot more important than being good at it. Some may disagree, but tough, this is my blog, not yours.

So what, exactly, is Fortnite: Battle Royale (or FNBR for short)? Released by Epic Games in September 2017, it’s a stand-alone and free to play game, set in the same ‘universe’ as Epic Games’ base game, Fortnite. It’s important to note that the base game isn’t required to play the Battle Royale version (as a side note, the base game will be released as free to play later this year).

“Okay, yes, that’s nice. But just what is a Battle Royale game?” nobody asks, but I’ll answer anyway.

Wikipedia describes the genre as – “A battle royale game is a video game genre that blends the survival, exploration and scavenging elements of a survival game with last man standing gameplay. Battle royale games challenge a large number of players, starting with minimal equipment, to search for weapons and armor and eliminate other opponents all while avoiding being trapped outside of a shrinking “safe area”, with the winner being the last competitor in the game. The name for the genre is taken from the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale.”

FNBR Freefall

Wikipedia also describes Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode as – “…up to 100 players…all start with no equipment outside of a pickaxe for resource gathering, and parachute onto the map. Once they land, they can scavenge for weapons, armor, and resources, the latter which can be used to make structures… Over time, a “storm” surrounds the area, and makes it so that the “safe” area of the map shrinks down in size. Once the “safe” area has shrunk to the smaller circle on the map… it will generate, at a random location, a smaller circle within. Those caught outside the area take damage and potentially die if they remain outside it too long. There are also random air drops of resources, weapons and items… with varying randomized items determined by rarity.”

Exciting stuff. No? Just me then. And the millions of players currently playing the two most popular games in the genre – Fortnite: Battle Royale and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.

It’s a simple premise for a video game, and that is one of the major attractions. Unlike most games with a deep progression system, which require countless hours of dedicated gaming to advance through, Battle Royale games can be picked up and played whenever a player feels like it. Half an hour to spare? Cool, you can jump in and play a game or two. Just like video arcade games of old, you start every new game from scratch, nothing carries over into the next game (cosmetic items aside). Games can last up to twenty or thirty minutes, or for just a few minutes if you play like me.

The social aspect of these games is also a major selling point. Games can be played solo, in pairs with a friend, or in squads of up to four players. A few beers, a few friends, and you’re good to go for a few hours entertainment. There’s little downtime between games, but you only start when you’re ready, so you can take as long as you like.

Fortnite: Battle Royale sets itself apart by being a lot more light-hearted than other games in the same genre. The cartoony style of the graphics sets the not so serious tone, and the gameplay matches this. The biggest differences between FNBR and it’s ‘competitors’ are the ability to destroy the environment, and the ability to build structures.

Your opponent is hiding behind a tree or large rock? No problem. Repeatedly shoot said tree or rock, or fire off a well placed RPG or two, and they’ll soon be without cover. Don’t forget that they can also do the same to you, too! The same goes for buildings, they’re not the safe havens they are in other Battle Royale games, and can be destroyed quite easily.


Want to get up to the top of that cliff? No problem, use the build tool to construct a ramp up to the top. Need a bit of a breather in relative safety? Again, no problem, just build yourself a fort to rest in. Structures can be manufactured from wood, brick or metal, the materials required are gathered from the objects you ‘harvest’ with your trusty pickaxe. These structures are also fairly easy to destroy, however, so have a care!

Being quick on the build is also extremely useful when coming under fire. Players can quickly construct a barrier between themselves and their attacker, giving themselves a few extra seconds to either go on the offensive, or run away.

I freely admit I’m no good at the quick building part, which is probably why I haven’t as yet won a solo game. I’ve come close, surviving until the last two on one occasion (until I fell off a cliff trying to get an angle on the other player), and I quite often get into the top 10. But no wins. Yet.

But the win will come, in time, of that I’m sure. Because despite being no good at building, despite not being the world’s best player of third person shooters (or any shooters, for that matter), Fortnite: Battle Royale is, without a doubt, a lot of fun to play. And it’s that fun factor which will keep me going back for more, time and again.

So, if you like shooters, or are just looking for something new and fun to play, you could do worse than give Fortnite: Battle Royale a go. Sure, it’s still in early access, so occasional issues are to be expected (and Epic Games do a sterling job of keeping on top of those issues, and also in listening to their community) but it’s FREE, and available on PS4, Xbox and PC. So what have you got to lose?

Apart from maybe your dignity.

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on January 6, 2018 in Gaming


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Assassin’s Creed: Origins… thoughts.

AC Origins

“…the silver disc of the moon peeks out from behind a cloud, painting the buildings and surrounding dunes a muted monochrome. From your perch atop the three storey mud-brick building you have an uninterrupted view of the entire desert fort. Several small structures cluster around this larger central one, all of which are surrounded by a thick wall standing almost fifteen feet high. This wall, which forms a rough, protective square around the compound, provides an excellent defence against the imagined phantoms of the night.

A wry smile touches your lips. That same wall proved no obstacle at all for the real enemy. You.

Heavy footsteps crunch the compacted dirt somewhere below. You peer over the edge of the tall construction, but the thick shadows are impenetrable, masking whoever is down there. A gruff voice calls out, asking the sentry at the gate if all is well. Curses follow when there is no reply. There will never be a reply, you muse. That particular sentry had felt the steel of your blade as it sliced his throat from ear to ear.

The owner of the voice steps out of the shadows into the pale moonlight. Even from this height the breadth of his shoulders mark him as a large, powerful man. Your breathing quickens. The leopard skin cape draped from those broad shoulders, the large, spiked steel-headed mace clutched like a child’s toy in his huge fist, both denote him as your intended target. The man you travelled five days across the unforgiving desert to assassinate.

You stand up, balancing easily on the outer rim of the flat roof. A deep breath, calming the underlying excitement. A quick check of your blades, and then you step out into thin air, plunging towards your victim, a bird of prey swooping down onto its quarry…” 


Have you ever wanted to be a master assassin, bringing death to your foes in a bygone era?

No? Just me then. Except the popularity of the Assassin’s Creed series from Ubisoft proves it’s not just me, after all.

boatingThe newest instalment in that long line of video games is Assassin’s Creed: Origins. This one takes you all the way back to the beginning of the Assassins, set in the twilight years of ancient Egypt. That’s an era that I’ve always had an interest in, and so I was looking forward to the game from its initial announcement.

Safe to say, I wasn’t disappointed, as the 100 hours gameplay I put in during the first ten viewdays after the game’s release testifies to. I finished the story. I visited all the places and collected all the things. I got the platinum trophy (I play on PS4). And I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m not done with the game, either. It’s still a lot of fun to dive back into that ancient world, plus the developers have plans to add extra content, both free and paid for, which will hopefully add a lot more hours of enjoyment.

So why, exactly, do I like Assassin’s Creed: Origins so much? Am I a die-hard Assassin’s Creed fan? Well, no, I am not. In fact, the only other game in the franchise I’ve played is Black Flag, because pirates. Who doesn’t want to be a pirate, am I right? No? Just me again then. Truth be told, I didn’t enjoy that game as much as I thought I was going to, and as such I’ve never completed it. Not even come close to completing it.

kittiesOrigins was a different animal though. Ubisoft promised a very, very large open-world environment. They said they had re-vamped the gameplay, adding a more RPG feel to it, and completely overhauled the combat system. That was enough for me to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially when coupled with the ancient Egyptian setting. In my opinion Ubisoft delivered on all of their promises.

Is the game perfect? No, of course not. Very few, if any,  video games are. Besides which, what constitutes perfection differs from person to person. It’s almost as if different people like different things. Shock horror. But, for me, Assassin’s Creed: Origins has far more positive points than negative ones, and that can only be a good thing.

bugsJust what are all of these positive and negative points? Forgive me, but I’m not going to list every last one, this is just a ‘my thoughts’ piece, not an in depth review. So let’s start with some of the positives.

The story line. I really enjoyed the story in this game. I can’t go into too much detail because that would end up with major spoilers, but it had me engrossed, and I was really able to emphasise with the major characters. I felt for them too, things weren’t easy. There were also very few trips back to ‘reality’ via the Animus, and those few trips were short and sweet, so your immersion isn’t broken too much.

Map size. The map in Assassin’s Creed: Origins is huge. I travelled in a straight line from north to south, on foot, on horseback, on boats, depending on the terrain, and it took me Afternoon strolltwenty minutes. I also did the same west to east, and though the distance looks shorter it took me the same amount of time. I’ve heard various people say that the majority of the map is empty, and while this is somewhat true, it’s not the entire story. You are, after all, in ancient Egypt, so the majority of cities and settlements will be clustered around water sources, and as such there is a lot of wilderness out there. But it’s not as empty as looking at the map might suggest. Go for a wander and find out what really is out there.

Combat. As promised, Ubisoft really did overhaul the combat system. You feel as though ohgodyou’re a lot more involved in the combat sequences, with the availability of light and hard hits, combos, special moves, and the all important ability to dodge. You have a large variety of weapons to choose from to match your playstyle, including straight swords, sickles, heavy blunts, sceptres, dual daggers, lances, various shields and a collection of differing bows. Each weapon type has it’s own moveset and special ability.

Visuals. The game looks gorgeous. I played on a basic PS4 and the visuals were still very Long way to goimpressive. Those of you who know me will know that in open world video games I’m a bit of an explorer, and can’t resist climbing the next hill to see what’s on the other side. In a lot of games this is frustrating as the draw distance is so limited you fail to get any sense of scale. Not so In Origins. In this game you can see for miles, and really get the sense that you’re in the middle of a vast and sweeping land. There is incredible detail in everything you can see, even down to the small insects. Hours can also be wasted with the built-in camera option (all the images in this post are from my play through, taken with the in-game camera).

So what about some of the negatives? Well, for me, one of the main ones is the skill tree. When you first open it up you see that it has three branches – hunter, warrior and seer. In RPG terms these basically equate to dexterity/agility, strength and magic. I initially looked divingforward to creating a character based on one of those skill branches – I usually play a dex build in games like that, so I was looking at the hunter branch. As it turns out, as you progress through the game you’re able to acquire the majority of skills in all three of the branches, you just have to decide which ones you would like first. I was a little disappointed, as I would have like to have been able to create a character based on how I like to play, instead of ending up with a generic one, basically the same as any other player’s. A minor point, but still, it would have been nice.

Also, sometimes the character movement seemed to be a bit clunky. I’d either get stuck on tomb1some seemingly innocuous part of the landscape, or I’d end up jumping from the top of a cliff instead of climbing down it like I wanted to. This is a problem in a lot of games, to be fair, but getting killed by bad game mechanics rather than something in the game itself, or your own stupidity, is always annoying.

At various places across the vast landscape you might just happen across a tomb, either in a tomb2pyramid, of which there are several, or hidden in the side of a cliff, in a canyon, or cave. I would really have liked to have seen these tombs to be a lot longer/deeper, and a lot more challenging with the amount of traps and puzzles contained within them. The result of watching too many Mummy movies over the years, I guess.

So, all in all, as I’ve already stated, I really enjoyed playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I had a blast playing it, and am looking forward to playing a lot more of it with the upcoming added DLCs. In my opinion it was very good value for money. It cost me £50, and so far that has worked out at 50p per hour. Bargain.


Just remember though that all of this is just my opinion, and should be treated as such. As always, if you want to buy a game, then it’s up to you to do your own research and make up your own mind.

As always, that shallot.





Posted by on November 12, 2017 in Gaming


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Diary of an Explorer #2

Elite Dangerous

Ship’s Log: Star Date 3303-07-28

A quick entry – more from embarrassment than the lack of anything to say.

I left Lembava, full of high spirits, visions of glorious adventure in my mind. 3000ly years out I decided to land on a moon to pick up a few minerals for my FMV. My mother always told me I was too hasty growing up, that I needed to slow down and smell the roses once in a while. Well, you know what? She was right.

Guess who never checked the moon’s gravity before going in to land?

Yes, that’s right, this bad boy, that’s who. In too much of a hurry.

Cruising down to the surface to land I though it seemed I was going a bit too fast. No bother, I thought, I can handle this. Wrong. Vertical thrusters on full I still pancaked onto the barren, rock strewn landscape. My shields vanished, alarms sounded, my cockpit cracked.

Yep, gravity sucks.

CMDR ABCurtiss

Look, mom, I’m a less than competent pilot.

Fortunately my momentum bounced my ship back up, and with full power to everything I had my Star Dancer was able to make it back into orbit. Using the FMV I managed to repair everything, apart from the FMV itself and the power plant. As both had sustained over 40% damage, I though the smart and prudent course of action was to head back to the Bubble for repairs.

I know, I’m a fool.

I am now docked at Ising Vision in the Neto system, home of the famous Pixel Bandits Security Force. They were gracious enough to accept me into their ranks, even after my amateurish error.

All systems are fully repaired and operational, so I leave tonight on my grand adventure (again).

Let’s just pretend my little mishap never happened, deal?



CMDR ABCurtiss signing off.



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Diary of an Explorer #1

Elite Dangerous

Star Date 3303-07-24

Well, here we are. It is time.

Life in the Bubble is chaotic, and I’ve had enough. Humankind’s uncontrolled urge to wipe themselves out in the name of peace, all in the pursuit of power and dominance, has driven me to the edge of… what exactly? Losing my mind? The fabled lost isle of Insanity? Probably not, and if I’m honest – which I can be, occasionally – I’m fairly certain that my so called sanity is far from what it should be anyway.

But no. It’s far simpler than that. Humankind, in its present form, just makes me sick to my stomach. The greed, the incessant need for power, the corruption, the endless wars, the needless deaths of the innocent – I can’t take it any more.

Yes, yes. I know. I’m far from an angel myself. I’ve smuggled stolen goods. I’ve relieved traders of their cargo – piracy, as some would call it. I’ve traded on the black market. I’ve even shot down fellow smugglers and pirates so I could collect their bounties, therefore enriching myself further.

So call me a hypocrite if you must, I’ll not deny it. But there comes a time when enough is enough, and this is that time. Have I seen the light? Ha! Do me a favour. But still… I can’t take it any more. I can’t remember the last time I slept more than a few hours at a time. Nightmares plague me. The illicit alcohol I’ve taken to drinking in the hope it’ll make me sleep soundly only gives me the worst hangovers. I have the shakes every morning. I’m becoming an alcoholic.

That’s why, for a while now, I’ve been hanging out in the Lembava system. That Li Yong-Rui runs a tight ship for an Independent, I have to admit, but I’m not here for him. I’m here for the discount on ships and parts. The Credits I had stashed away, added to those I made when I sold my trusty Cobra, were enough for me to buy an Asp Explorer and outfit her the way I wanted.

Star Dancer

Star Dancer – ship ID: T4T3R5

Star Dancer, as I named her, is good for only one thing – exploring. I have piloted her for thousands of light years and so I know her inside out. I persuaded that eccentric engineer Felicity Farseer to work on my ship, and that, coupled with my custom outfitting, has given Star Dancer a jump range of just over 51LY. 51.16, to be exact.

She is my ticket out of here, out of the Bubble. Away from so called civilisation. Some say spending too long out in the dark, all alone, will drive a Commander mad. Well, what of it? I’m most of the way there already. At least it will be peaceful.

And I might just get to see some awe inspiring sights on the road to madness. Who knows. Only one way to find out.

I leave tonight. To where, I have no idea. Only that it will be a very, very, very long way from here.

This ship’s log, this diary, will be a record of my journey.


CMDR ABCurtiss signing out




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Gaming – What’s Being Played?

Elite Dangerous

On the 27th of this month – that’s June, if you’re not keeping track – the massively multiplayer space epic Elite: Dangerous finally arrives on PS4. In 22 days and 10 hours, at the time of writing this post, to be exact.

Am I looking forward to it? Yes, yes I am.

If you’ve read my previous ‘thoughts and opinions’ posts on a few other games you might have gathered that I’m an adventurer at heart. And you’d be quite correct – I always want to know what’s around the next corner, what’s over the next hill. Onward, ever onward. Way back in the mists of time when I first started playing World of Warcraft the first title I earned was the Explorer one. I was far too low level for a lot of the areas but nevertheless I had to persevere, had to uncover all of the map, just to see what was there.

That adventurous spirit is why I like No Man’s Sky so much. It is, after all, a game which is all about exploring and discovering. I played it to death when it first came out, getting the platinum trophy the month after the game’s release, and I still pop back into that colourful galaxy every now and then. Elite: Dangerous has the same attraction for me. Billions of star systems to explore, each with their own orbiting planets and moons, is too much of an attraction to resist.

But, as I said earlier, Elite: Dangerous isn’t released for the PS4 until the end of this month. So what am I playing in the meantime? As I’m busy writing these days, coupled with a few other commitments, I don’t have as much time for video games as I’d like, and so you’d expect I wouldn’t be playing many different games.

Ha, yeah, right.

The current ‘installed games’ list on my PS4 and its 1tb external drive – in no particular order – reads as follows –

Mafia III, The Elder Scrolls Online, Doom, Batman: Arkham Knight, No Man’s Sky, Nioh, Tales from the Borderlands, The Crew, Titanfall 2, Driveclub, Grand Theft Auto V, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, The Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2, This War of Mine: The Little Ones, Project Cars, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Division, Destiny, Far Cry: Primal, Far Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Dirt Rally, Trials Fusion, Terraria, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Salt and Sanctuary, Final Fantasy XV, LittleBigPlanet 3, Pac-Man, The Deadly Tower of Monsters, Super Stardust Ultra, Just Cause 3, ARK: Survival Evolved, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Battlefield 1, Dying Light, Fallout 4, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Firewatch, Star Wars: Battlefront, Rocket League, The Golf Club, The Last of Us Remastered, The Witcher III: Wildhunt, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Steep, Uno, Minecraft.

In all honesty, and probably obviously, I’m not playing all of them. The one I find myself playing the most lately is Mafia III. I should be a lot further on in the story than I am right now, but I waste far too much time just driving around picking up all the collectables. I jump into Driveclub now and then, as blasting your favourite car along a mountain road is always fun. After watching a friend play Elder Scrolls Online lately I hopped back into that, but only for a brief moment. I loaded my level 50 toon, only to be informed I needed to re-allocate my skills points, so I’ll save that for a later date. Battlefield 1 and GTA V are always firm favourites as well, along with the wasted hour or three in No Man’s Sky hopping from planet to planet.

And so there you have it, a completely pointless blog post born out of boredom.

Elite: Dangerous needs to hurry up.

What games are you all playing lately?

As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Gaming


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Hey! Hi, howareya?

Kept you waiting, huh? (for all you MGS fans out there.)

Well then. Busy, busy, busy. But finally back to working on my own stuff once again. The Negative Bind hasn’t been forgotten about, it’s still very much on my mind. It has, however, been shelved for the time being, as my short story collection keeps rearing its ugly little head and distracting me.

Once upon a time I had a title in mind for this collection but as time went on I came up with another name for it and ran with that for a while. This new title – A Dog Barked Once – made perfect sense. To me, anyway. You see, the vast majority of my stories contain, somewhere in them, the line “…somewhere in the distance a dog barked, once, twice…”, and so A Dog Barked Once seemed very fitting. Hell, I could even write a second collection and call it A Dog Barked Twice!


But no. Again time has moved on, and I find myself favouring my original title – Flotsam.

Why Flotsam, you ask. Well, dictionaries define the word as:

  • pieces of broken wood and other waste materials found on the beach or floating on the sea.
  • anything or anyone that is not wanted or not considered to be important or useful.

If you were to ask me where I get my ideas from, most of the time I’d be unable to tell you. They just kind of appear in my head. The closest I can come to explaining it is to say I view the imagination in my head as a vast, and mostly empty, ocean. Floating around in this Imaginocean are idea boxes – some complete and whole, the majority only a part of the entire story, pieces of wreckage from a fractured tale.

Whenever one of these boxes floats close enough to the shore, I wade out and grab it with both hands before it can float out of reach again. I’ll open the box, see what’s inside, and write it down, before settling back to await the next idea box to drift into view.

So yes, I’m slightly weird. No matter.

A lot of writers like to do cover reveals. They like to keep the image hidden until they feel the time is right, and then release it with great fanfare, or in a more subdued manner, depending on their style. Well, not me. Once I have a cover I like then I don’t mind showing it around (mainly because there’s a very good chance I’ll change my mind and make another cover before long).

And so, without further ado, here is the cover for my upcoming short story collection, Flotsam.



When will it be released? Who knows. Whenever I get around to finishing it, would be my best guess. Until then, at least you have a pretty picture to look at, right?


As always, that shallot.



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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Books, Writing


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