Showing posts with label ray gun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ray gun. Show all posts


A War to end all Worlds

Last night I finally watched a BBC program on the War Poets that I recorded in June.  It focussed not just on their poetry, but also on the landscape and events that they inhabited around the Somme: battles they fought in, what poems they wrote afterwards, where they died.

And that reminded me of this, which I think sprang from a previous time when I had been listening to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds in close proximity to reading another account of the first World War.  It's an easy juxtaposition, Martian fighting machines against barbed wire and artillery, but I should (and do) feel a little uncomfortable about it.  I am welding together bloody history and SciFi fantasy after all.

My defence for this latter point is threefold:

  1. This was written with the intent of using the fantasy war as a mechanism to highlight the horror of the real war...
  2. Wells himself was certainly critiquing the empire building and conquest of his time...
  3. You don't get SciFi authors in front of War Crimes Tribunals*
(*Although if any ever do, you can bet the charge sheet with be spectacular.)

A War to end all Worlds

When the whistles were blowin'
and there was me
there was me and Smiggy
and the two Johns

Johnny C and Johnny F and
nothing for it
but to go over the top.
We could not see

no tripods from where we were
but we knew alright
they were out there somewhere
lumbering in

with beams and gas and voices
like foghorns boomin'
and foghorns seemed to fit
with that black gas.

Smiggy bought it first, smashed
down by steel feet
that fell amongst us sudden
in the wire

we couldn't even stop
though Johnny C
would have headed back
exceptin' I swore.

Johnny F got caught out
in the open
when two tripods came up
and burned down

where he stood.  We cowered
in the water
in a half-collapsed trench
hearing steel grind

closer to us.  Lining up
on the angle
of the trench and we knew
the Martians had us

but a squad of gunners
with a Vickers gun
had set it up quiet-like
and cut them down.

It's a beautiful machine
the Vickers gun
if you like to kill things
and that was my war.


A love song for geeks

A Theta-Ray, earlier today...
This dates from 2011, I cannot recall just what I was thinking when I wrote it...

One thing here is to smile kindly at all those old 1950/60s Sci-fi plots that I grew up with.  The 1970's were still a work in progress in those days, and Cyberpunk was still in its bedroom looking under the bed for some interface leads.

However, as you might imagine I write about geeks, geek subjects, and geek sensibilities fairly often; and the point here is also, at least partly, to confound a stereotype—something else I often want to do.

A love song for geeks

These creatures are impossible,

Professor Blood-Fugue said.
I was staring through the visionscope
in the farthest infra-red

at the shape of you sleeping
a ripple beneath my duvet,
a breath of girl-scent delicacy
and curves of skin and tracery
of careless hair.

So when Martians attack
in stereo, technicolor, force
I will grab the theta-ray, of course,
and try to fight back

in total silence. I will not wake you.
You'll never understand
how completely I am mazed,

marooned and overwhelmed in such science-fiction days
where no story could be more astounding
as Captain Oblivion told the mind-fiend

than the fact you are still here.

The other benefit of writing this poem was that when I posted it on Poets' Graves, one of the other members drew my attention to the following:

—and I've incorporated Nerina Pallot into my wide musical tastes.

Image attribution: By Joost J. Bakker from IJmuiden (Space Pilot X Ray Gun  Uploaded by Oxyman) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons