Broken Links – Apology

Many apologies – a lot of the file links down the right hand side are broken! Will put them back asap. Please come back soon.

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Action on Atheist Advent

Tune in to

www.atheistadvent.com

and atheistadvent.wordpress.com

for songs to help you through the darkest season.

And send me your snowy pics! (Or your not-snowy pics, if it’s not snowy where you are). I’m making a gallery. Send to englandland [ a t ] gmail [ d o t ] com.

All will be explained, at Atheist Advent 2010.

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Last Episode | THE OLD PROFESSOR

All hope is lost. Einstein sends a warning from beyond the grave – but we hear it too late; Mephisto’s face glows red in the smoky light; the Doctor broods above the turbulent waters of the Thames; the chasms and canyons of the leech hang from hyperspace, while a triple-tracked guitar blitz sings of the annihilation of the Earth … and of our story. All hope is lost – isn’t it?

Thrill to the final installment of The Shadow In Eternity.

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‘A moment of madness …’

‘And could I have been so fortuitous as to have encountered you in a moment of madness?’ Mephisto asked, and he directed at her a look which had ruined many marriages throughout his long and adventurous life.

Coming soon, the very final last episode of Doctor Who and the Shadow in Eternity.

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Coming soon …

The Moon was drowning in blood. The leech was unfurling across the inner solar system, extending fleshy petals out to Mars and Venus, its ribs and arteries blotting the sun.

Coming soon – the final mind-altering episode of Doctor Who and the Shadow in Eternity.

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Episode Thirteen | MEASLES IN THE SKY

The cataclysm strikes. The world is infected by a speck From Beyond. In the final seconds of human history, Cleggaron reveals himself, and all plots are laid bare — All? No. One last, profound secret remains to be unveiled …

Are your tympanic membranes ready for Episode Thirteen of Dr Who and the Shadow in Eternity?

Click to listen or download on the right, or sign up on iTunes.

Final episode coming .. very soon

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Hiroshima Day, August 6

I was planning to end this story by writing in a new character. He’d be the commander of the HMS Vengeance, the British nuclear missile submarine, out on patrol in the Earth’s last hours (there’s always at least one out there). I imagined this commander as being like the captain from Das Boot, a grizzled soldier with a conscience. At the last moment in our story, when all seemed lost, and all it took was for one nuclear missile to be launched for the Earth to burn, the narrative would switch to the Vengeance commander.

As you may know, the command centres of Britain’s nuclear weapons submarines contain a safe, and in that safe is another safe, and in that safe is a letter, handwritten by the British prime minister. The letter gives the instruction what to do if the submarine thinks mainland UK has been destroyed. One of the things they look out for is that BBC Radio 4 stops transmitting. If it does, they assume there’s been a massive attack on London, the commander opens the safe, and reads the letter. Each new prime minister has to write the letter out on first taking office, one copy for each of the four submarines. No one knows what’s in the letter except the prime minister.

So there would be the commander, opening the safe. He reads the letter – we never find out what is in it! He would crumple it up! Either Prime Minister Cleggaron or Commander Thingy – one of them has a conscience! The first missile would not launch. War would be averted; the planet saved. What a magical moment, bringing a tear to the eye. Oh what a fine sentiment to express on the anniversary of Hiroshima!

But this sentimental crap didn’t survive five seconds of actual research on the Ministry of Defence website about what the Trident/Vengeance nuclear missile system is really like.

To start with, take a look at the portrait of Vengeance’s Starboard Commander, Richard Small – the man I would have undertake such an heroic deed. What’s wrong with this picture? Is he sticking out his jaw to look magisterial? And what’s that gleam in his eye? -That special gleam which says ‘I’ve been promoted, love: now I run a genocide machine’.

Turn to his crumpled counterpart, Andrew Bower, who appears to be showing off his watch. Bower’s biog says: ‘In early 2005 emergent manpower requirements led to his appointment as the Executive Officer of HMS Vanguard’. In other words, it seems, he was promoted for lack of alternative.

Small’s background is in engineering, but by 2001 he’d been promoted to navigating officer of the HMS Trafalgar in 2001, “deployed as part of OP VERITAS against the TALIBAN and AL QAIDA in Afghanistan.” Deployed in Afghanistan? A landlocked mountainous country, unsuitable for submarine warfare? Ah, so what he did was fire long-range missiles into Afghanistan from the Indian Ocean. Forged in the fires of war.

Small’s biog implies in an oddly circumlocutary way that he was away from Trafalgar on training in ‘advanced warfare’, and only came back in 2003. Would the Navy have any reason to be touchy about events on Trafalgar between 2001 and 2003?

A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine needed £5m worth of repairs after it struck the seabed because a piece of tracing paper covered its navigational chart, investigators have found.

This from the London Guardian. It continues: ‘The tracing paper had been used on the chart to protect it from being written on, obscuring vital information.’ This was in 2002, off the Isle of Skye. Commander Small, having not been responsible for the near-sterilization of that island, has gone onwards and upwards.

It is hard to think of anything heroic emerging from HMS Vengeance. The crew pose for charity photos on the nuclear submarine’s hull, soliciting donations for atomic war while showing off their pecs in their lint-free submarine suits. The Royal Navy webpage, written to keep ‘friends and family’ informed about ‘life on board’, mispells the submarine’s name and is filled with phrases lifted from a second-rate marketing website, such as

When you’re talking about the Strategic deterrent, you can’t leave anything to chance

and

The boys ‘back aft’ are always at work to make sure that when Command demands, Vengence [sic] delivers.

The mantra is safety and efficiency; the tone mediocrity and twee sentimentality (the ‘Man of the Boat’ award was given to the chef, who ‘demonstrated outstanding professional ability, creating a menu which, whilst diverse and enticing, was also healthy, helping to maintain the fitness of the boat’s crew’).

And then I realized: this is not a warship, but a giant, submerged government department. Civil servants, plunged, nuclear-armed, into abysmal darkness.

I may be writing an SF fantasy about a woman Doctor Who, but I have no right to stretch imagination too far. When the time comes, Vengeance and its monstrous sisters will fire their missiles. The commanders will beetle over to the safes, telling themselves it’s all for the best, that they have no choice; there will be Cameron’s (or whoever’s) writing, telling them to fire, presumably with some pretentious self-justifying euphemistic florish.

They’ll read the letter, and they’ll get to work.

Happy Hiroshima Day!

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