"Q: What is the similarity between the Enterprise and toilet
A: They both revolve around Uranus (your anus) and wipe out
Klingons (cling ons)."
by Richard Karsmakers
The buildings looked very much the same as they had always. From
a distance at least, he reckoned, for up close there would be no
missing the ivy that had overgrown the once mighty places of
knowledge, the broken windows, the crows that would scatter from
impromptu nests not in trees but in what previously had been
University staff offices.
The wind felt fresh and cleansing in a way as he cycled through
it, admiring that off-orange shade on the clouds as they slowly
crept across the autumn sky like slow hounds having lost the
scent of blood. But there was no cleansing the angular corpses
of concrete, steel and glass.
He remembered how things used to be. There had always been
people bustling, always some activity, up in to the later hours
after which even the most zealous professors refrained from
tutoring, the most ardent students found something to do at home.
Buses had come and gone constantly, filled with people standing,
there not being any more space to sit.
Hustling and bustling. Intellectual wealth was being
distributed, the lecture halls filled with brains ready to
None of those now. Indeed, it seemed as if he was the only
living soul, barring the crows and various other animals.
Perhaps he was, actually, there was no telling. Many people shied
away these days, at least those that still lived. The dead didn't
care whether they had fallen their last fall in the middle of
something as hideously public as the middle of a street. They
were beyond caring and, frankly, so were just about all their
If he had been a crow, he'd probably have picked up residence in
one of those old offices, too. There was always a good supply of
nesting material. Little bones, bits of pullovers. And shiny
bits, too. Some jewelry that clung to completely emaciated
fingers, a gold tooth in a skeletal jaw, and glasses of course.
It had seemed almost like a law that every professor of standing
should have a pair of them casually hanging around his neck,
though never actually using them. The crows seemed pretty
interested in these shiny objects.
He looked around for an instant, panic-stricken, when he thought
he heard a car engine. You always had these Mad Max type of guys,
people who just seemed to have lain in waiting for this kind of
Thing to happen to truly come alive, manifest themselves in some
way other than through crime or being in a punk-rock band.
What was that singer's name again? Axel something. Had meant
quite something back then, but not long after that the Thing had
The few people he knew - a very few indeed, no more than two or
three - usually didn't mention the Thing. It was a taboo more
than masturbation, buggering, child pornography and haemorrhoids
added together in a deeply religious context. But if they had to,
for some reason, the used the Thing. Or simply used phrases like
"before" or "after", even leaving off "it". It was all pretty
clear after or before what was meant. It had affected the world
like nothing had ever affected it. The world had finally warded
off the threat of nuclear war, former Yugoslavia had been split
up in the end and then It had struck. Not that the world as he
had known it would have survived much longer, for Religious
Fundamentalism had already gained atomic knowledge so there had
been no knowing what would happen.
That was before.
In the end, God - or Allah or sphincter or whatever - had rid
the world of 99% of its population anyway. It had come. No
scientist had seen it coming, for it was swift and deadly like an
infinitely improved version of the Black Death.
Nature has its way of dealing with such things. It does not
require conscious thought. It's more like an instinct. It doesn't
even require a shred of sentience. It just happens. First there
had been language, the ultimate weapon. When that didn't help
there came fire, possessions, religion, war. The plague had been
desperate but it had worked fairly well. Then more wars,
including a few involving religion. Nature, had it been a person,
would have laughed at the irony. Nature tells lemmings to hurl
themselves off cliffs, it tells praying mantises to eat their
loved ones. Much in the same way evolution and natural selection
were part of nature to cause species to survive, these were very
much the keywords in a species' destruction.
Nature had devised something that would probably have been
labelled AIDS B or C or something of the kind if only humanity's
precious scientists had had the time to do so. Whereas the mother
virus had only been sexually transferrable, the new version was
every bit as contagious as the many versions of the flu.
Promiscuity or use of drugs were no longer the only cause for
this severest of punishments. Simply going outside was enough. Or
remaining inside, for that matter, and inviting people in.
He thought back of what it had been like. There had been
novels involving massive plagues. They had sold well, had been
capably written, and had at the time seemed frightfully
realistic. However, these had just been books. Figments of
authors' imaginations. The real thing was much, much more
terrible. It would have taken someone to see the Thing in real
life to be able to write about it and describe it like reality
There was not much of a delay. Modern transportation methods
enabled for quick distribution of the virus. It even multiplied
in water you drank, in the very air you breathed. Other bits of
nature, such as the weather, did the rest.
In the end, It struck. Nature's way of selection and keeping in
control the ever growing tide of humanity.
Unavoidable like an onrushing train.
Finishing this issue of ST NEWS took one month longer than
scheduled, and in that month I read some extra books. Some
opinionated writings are to be found below, including some
remarks on what I think is the best book I've ever read (and the
best I am likely to read in quite a while), Stephen King's "The
Tom Sharpe - The Great Pursuit
I was in the middle of reading this when finishing the previous
issue of ST NEWS, a time that seems aeons ago and after which so
many things have happened that it seems almost as if I've been
reincarnated into another life with a few memories retained of
What these memories tell me is that "The Great Pursuit" is the
story of an author who is not the author of a work that sells
very well and causes quite a bit of controversy. It's difficult
to describe the chaos which ensues as, basically, everybody just
goes around assuming, thinking, and believing without there being
any core of truth behind assumptions, thoughts and beliefs. It's
basically the same with each and every Tom Sharpe novel, a kind
of formula I guess, and if I could describe it accurately within
the confines of this article I'd be in a position to earn loads
of money doing exactly what Sharpe does with different crazy
characters. But I can't so I won't. Suffice to say that it's
every bit as brilliantly hectic as the other Sharpe novels I've
read so far, hilarious more often than not, and thoroughly worth
I don't think there are any Sharpe novels that are in any way
boring. He always thinks up weird characters and then makes them
do incredible things (and have even more incredible things
inflicted upon them).
This is mandatory stuff for people who like to laugh out loud
Tracey Hickman & Margaret Weiss - Rose of the Prophet (Trilogy)
I think this trilogy must have been standing around in a
bookcase for more than a year when finally Miranda (my now ex-
girlfriend) told me to read it after she had. Alex (the chap I'd
borrowed it from) seemed not to mind, but I really had to read
Hickman and Weiss have turned to the middle east (Arabian stuff)
for inspiration for this series. What we have is a jihad scenario
where one god basically wants to beat all other gods. The
protagonists, the herioc Khardan and proud Zohra, have to unite
their tribes to be able to stand a chance. There's a lot of
humour in these books and, unfortunately (?) a fair bit of cheap
romance novel ingredients. The plot is original and there are
some interesting ideas stashed in the world where the story takes
place. Of course it's capably written, though probably a bit,
well, conservative in description and that kind of thing. It
seems as if they have a somewhat limited vocabulary that they
occasionally reach the ceiling of. As opposed to Stephen King,
you often get the idea of having read something similar somewhere
It's a good trilogy, and I thought it was better than the
"Darksword Trilogy" with its worthless third part. Hickman and
Weiss are already working on a new trilogy , "Death's Gate",
which might already be released by now.
But none of their current or more recent work will ever match
those awesome "Dragonlance Adventures" and "Dragonlance Legends",
I'm afraid. Too bad, really.
Stephen King - The Stand
I've been taken away by books before. I've spent large part of
my life getting people to check out "Lord of the Rings" and "The
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", even "It". But it seems I have
now finally read a book that tops them all as far as I am
concerned: "The Stand" (the uncut edition). A massive 1400+ pages
of insanely excellent story, written with such attention to
detail and character psychology that it sucks you in an
armagedonnesque world like would a powerful drug. I took slightly
more than a week to read this book, in between writing very long
letters to Karin and doing some necessary school things. That
should give you an indication of its excellence.
This is a book to judge books by. It tells the story of a
terrifying plague ravishing the earth, followed by a battle
between good and evil. The plague bit is meticulously detailed
and, as such, probably the only part of the book that could in
any way be said to belong to the "horror" genre. At times it's
almost frighteningly realistic. The other two parts of the book
are none the less realistic, provided you'd want to suspend your
disbelief of there actually being a god and a devil. But it's
really easy because Stephen King is a phenomenal story-teller and
his way with words is truly unique. His similes are original and
get the picture across like few authors I've read so far.
The uncut edition is basically the regular edition with about
400 pages of skipped material added. Believe me, you would not
want to skip on those 400 pages unless you'd already have bought
the cut edition before. However, I think King also added quite a
few bits that were not in the original 1978 uncut edition, for
there are mentions of the film "Predator" (from 1987) and even
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I guess he added some bits up to
1988. It must have been some piece of work to get it all
"The Stand" is a true masterpiece that no mortal should be
without. If ever I would want to tell you wholeheartedly to go
and check out a book, it's certainly doubly much so with this
one. To use an infamous ex-editor's words (once uttered in
connection with "Terminator 2"): Go and read it or you won't have
Tom Sharpe - The Throwback
Suppose you take an old man, rich and about to die, who believes
progress is everything but a boon and imagines himself in a world
a century past. Add a bastard son that the old man wants to
prevent from making the mistakes his mother made by raising him
with dedication to the exact sciences and total non-exposure to
anything even vaguely related to sex. Shake that a bit, and add a
woman who is looking for an old and rich husband, with a daughter
who lives her fantasies in Victorian romances.
Add sex-crazed house inhabitants, slobbering dawgs, tax
collectors attempting to get taxes from a non-existing person
and a few people screwing around, and what you get is a sequence
of explosions, intrigue and, amidst all that, a small but
terrifyingly vicious bull terrier on acid.
Sharpe's done it again, and although this book contains a few
passages that might be considered over the top and slightly
saturated with rather long sentences, it's another belly-rippling
book that I would certainly advise you all to read.
You may wonder why I tell you all books I read are worth
checking out. Well, like with stuff I go to see in the cinema, I
carefully check what I spend time reading on. I usually know
beforehand that the chances of my liking a book are fairly big
before I start reading it.
Tom Sharpe - Ancestral Vices
Yep, another Sharpe book. I've had to read a lot of these
because Stefan was about to go off to some distant and very
exciting country and as I'd borrowed these off him I wanted to
have them all read before he left.
"Ancestral Vices" was next.
At first I didn't like it a lot. It wasn't clear where the plot
was heading, and the sentences...well, Sharpe went through pains
to creature long sentences with loads of commas and a lot of
difficult words, so it seems. Especially at start it was tireing
But once the story gains the momentum of a train down-hill
that's about to derail, things get easier to plough through and
the humour gets every bit as relentless as all other Sharpe
The main character in this one is a professor by the name of
Walden Yapp who is a left-wing socialist that is unwittingly sent
out by a family-hating Lord Petrefact (who's as capitalist as you
can get) to destroy the name and reputation of all his kin. Throw
in an automated wheelchair, a Person Of Restricted Growth and a
weirdly appealing female with an IQ of 40 and you will have only
a few of the bits that in the end lead to the proverbially
Sharpe-esque climax of chaos and total turmoil.
Though I might venture to say this is not my favourite of
Sharpe's novels, it's still an extremely enjoyable one,
especially in the jail bits (I thought). The end is a bit strange
and unexpected, though.
Stephen Fry - The Liar
This book started off genuinely promising. The sleeve was
literally riddles with excessive praise, so that somehow made a
positive impression on me despite the fact that Stefan - who had
lent the book to me - had not even finished it.
It is my guess that the reviewers only read the first one third.
The first one third is quite hilarious, sometimes of the belly-
rippling-with-laughter kind, and full of typically English use of
language that I happen to get off on. However, as the book
proceeds I could not help getting the idea of reading a male
homosexual manifesto of sorts, with all-too-explicit references
to the gay way of life, including that of gays not at all well
The book starts off to say that everything between the covers is
a lie, so it's very difficult to say what's true for the
protagonist and what isn't, but I found the book a tad shocking
at times. It's also very confusing, because it's not told in
chronological order at all and the backflashes are difficult to
separate from the rest. The whole plot has more double linings
than a spy's suitcase, which doesn't make things easier either.
I did not like the book very much, as a whole. The plot was
confusing and the scenes sometimes depicted too explicitly. Upon
me crept the mistake many readers make, namely that of projecting
too many of the persona's thoughts and ideas with that of the
writer. I sincerely hope that is indeed a mistake.
Michael Moorcock - The Cornelius Quartet
This is actually an omnibus kind of thing, the first of two,
with four books involving Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius characters.
I regret to say this is one book I really regret having people
buy for me. The first of the four books - "The Final Programme" -
was just really weird but not too bad. Even so, I got the
impression it was written by a frustrated technophile, and a
paranoid one at that. It was really weird, like I said, and had
no decent storyline nor a satisfactory end. Maybe it's very
literary, but if so then it's too much for me. The second story,
"A Cure for Cancer", was much more baffling. A weird structure,
strange stories, no connection between parts apparent. Jeff
Minter had advised me to read Jerry Cornelius stuff because it
was said to be inspiring and all, with vast interlocking
universes and all. Well, this is the first time his taste does
not at all coincide with mine. Too bad.
After 200 pages of half-hearted reading, I decided to call it
quits. I seem to recall that being the second time I actually
never finished a story, the first time being with part three of
Lewis' "Cosmic Trilogy".
Stephen King - Needful Things
Never thought I'd finish this book prior to finishing this issue
of ST NEWS, but I did. Started it right in the middle of what
should have been a week of studying Middle Welsh for an exam on
December 13th, and finished all 800 pages of it within a mere 3
What can I say? "Needful Things" is every bit as impressive as
"The Stand". It tells the story of mankind's greed and to which
things it can lead, with terrifying and sometimes shocking
realism. Weirdly, the book is very much a Tom Sharpe kind of
setup with people assuming things that are wrong, escalating into
a climax lasting about 200 pages and simply refusing the reader
to let go for anything more than a few seconds to utter a stifled
moan or a hushed, "sheeeeeeeit". Only with Stephen King there's
not a lot to laugh at, the main distinction between him and
Sharpe in this particular case. "The Stand" was written in the
late 70's, "Needful Things" in the early 90's. He's not lost his
touch, I am glad to say, and I think there's a very long stretch
between him and authors I've previously liked most (like Tolkien,
Adams, Pratchett, Favriel-Kay). It's comparing oranges and
apples, really, but King has the knack of story-telling and he's
got something to tell, too. I will read plenty more of his work,
People might think his stuff is pompous or overly verbose, but
it all just helps to drag you inside his fictional mind, create a
climax of climaxes.
I know what to say about "Needfull Things", now.
Philip K. Dick - Time out of Joint
He's said to be have been "the most brilliant scifi mind of the
planet", and that might actually be too far off the mark. "Time
out of Joint" was the first Dick novel I've ever read and,
although short in comparison with King - less than 200 pages -
it's got some realy interesting twists and edges, comprising an
intricately complex puzzle that gets jigsawed together only near
the very end. When reading a book like "Time out of Joint" you
understand why "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall" were actually
based on Philip K. Dick novels.
I read "Time out of Joint" in about a day, in between studying
Middle Welsh still, and it was a very nice book, intellectually
stimulating and in some way fresh. Original plots back from the
50's because, yes, that's how old this book is. I think no scifi
afficionade would mind reading this.
More books read are commented upon - or, rather, will be - in
the next issue of ST NEWS. I've got some more Stephen King and
Philip K. Dick novels waiting to be read, and some older stuff
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.