Absent-mindedly, he stuffed his right hand in his jacket pocket and felt the jar. He drew it out, looked through the glass at the white lumps of organic matter inside and said aloud to himself, “Magic I don’t think so.” He tossed it in the metal waste bin then, as the clanging sound his action had caused resonated around the room, he had another thought and looked in the bin. The jar was still intact. He retrieved it, put it down on the laboratory bench, discarded his jacket and put on his labcoat. What followed next led to the discovery of Floracillin.
There was a time when punctures were a common occurrence. Roads were in a worse condition than they are now and there were many carts carrying small sharp objects such as nails, tacks, glass splinters and fragments of metal that could drop onto the tarmac. Today there are so many wheels traversing the highways and tyre quality has improved so much that the odds on your tyre coming into contact with a sharp object that can cause harm is remote. But punctures do happen and as it is now a rare occurrence it can catch any traveller unprepared.
The other day I felt my front driver’s side wheel scrape the curb and stepping out of the car to examine it thought the tyre looked flat. I still had some miles to drive that day so as a precaution I strove to change the wheel but try as I might with the onboard wheel brace I could not shift the wheel nuts. In the end I ruined the edges of the wheel locking nut which according to the RAC rescue service man I was forced to phone for help rendered it unusable. He also told me that whoever it was changed the wheel when I last renewed the tyre had over tightened the wheel nuts so that I had no chance of moving them with my wheel brace. The only option was to inflate the tyre and hope it remained inflated until I got home. This I duly did and to my astonishment the tyre remained inflated for several weeks afterwards.
These days it is quicker and easier for garages to use airguns to remove and replace wheels when renewing tyres. As a result a badly trained mechanic can pay little attention to the torque that should be applied and over tighten the wheel nuts. I now know that if I cannot loosen the nuts myself I must call an expert. I have since replaced the locking nut with one I obtained from my car dealer. I have also bought a can of tyre sealant foam to carry in the car as an emergency measure to get me home. In my motorcycling days I carried such a canister in a side pannier as it was too complicated to carry out roadside puncture repairs and of course there was no spare wheel. It is heartening to remember that precautions I took while touring the roads of the UK and abroad on two wheels around forty years ago still stand me in good stead now I journey on four.
Bike Travelling Man: a life with two motorcycles can be found at
Derek put down his trumpet and asked, “What do you think of that?”
“Far out, Man, “whispered Clive. “It were great.”
“It was certainly the best piece of improvised Jazz I’ve heard in a long time,” agreed Clare. “But I don’t understand why you made that vulgar noise in the middle.”
“It sort of went with the mood,” said Derek.
Clive nodded his approval and murmured, “Cool.”
“Well, I think it spoils it and should be taken out.”
Derek studied the three members of his trio carefully. Clare, the clarinettist was the most recent addition and had classical training, but he had known the drummer, Clive, since childhood. “It stays in,” he said. After all this was a democracy.
The remainder of the rehearsal centred on what the piece should be called and it turned out to be Raspberry Jam.
There have been many celebrated scientists in fiction. A disproportionate number of these have been depicted as mad, working on outlandish experiments to change the world and often nearly destroying it in the process. They usually end up destroying themselves. I often wonder if it is because of these fictional caricatures that people regard scientists and the science they produce with suspicion. However, the real reason is almost certainly because of their inability to communicate properly with the public.
I have spent most of my working life as a biological scientist while writing fiction in my spare time. Up until a few years ago I have been reluctant to publish any fictional science. I know how much effort goes into researching real science and getting it to work. Fictionalising it, by making it up goes against the grain. But what in the past has been regarded simply as science fiction is often now becoming science fact and so this form of fiction is now a real force in driving fact.
My novel Magic Bullets at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
Conveying music in fiction is hard to do. I have read novels where an author has written an original song and printed the lyrics on the page. A good example of this can be found in the works of Tolkien where his penned “folk” songs are sung by his heroic characters. But when reading these stories I find it hard to visualise these songs without a tune to put them to. This is of course where film and audio adaptations have the advantage over the written word where the producer is able to hire musicians to write a fitting melody. I suppose the author could add a short piece of sheet music to fit the lyrics but the musically illiterate such as myself and even those among my readers might find this a distraction.
Instead, I have merely opted to describe the sound without going deeply into its substance. In my first novel, Cogrill’s Mill, I have simply suggested that my fictional characters were listening to local folk music or when they were listening to contemporary country music I chose a well known song, namely Dolly Parton’s Jolene. My latest novel features a young female singer who becomes a star and I applied the same technique here. In this way I hope to show my readers that her singing and the sound of her voice are essential ingredients to the plot.
Copyright: Dmitriy Cherevko / 123RF Stock Photo
Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
Killing fictional characters is good fun for the novelist. But it can be difficult for the reader to take so it must not be undertaken likely. Dickens was chastised by his readers for the death of Little Nell and fans of Sherlock Holmes were so incensed when the hero fell to his death at the Reichenbach Falls that the Author, Conan Doyle, was compelled to bring him back.
I myself have been approached by readers who were upset by the demise of a favourite character I had created. But I am afraid it was too late. The stories in question were completed and the books published. Even if I could go back and alter it, the death was such an integral part of the plot, the purpose of the story would have irrevocably been changed.
It would be like inventing a Time Machine and going back in history and killing an evil historical figure like Hitler. I remember hearing a comedian saying that killing babies is what a time machine should be used for. The bible states that King Herod, on hearing a prophecy about the birth of Jesus, ordered the massacre of the innocents, but that did not work. Altering the course of history, whether factual or fictional, does not seem to be a good idea.
The odd death around a central character in fiction gives them a sense of vulnerability and helps the reader care about them. It is a reader’s empathy and concern for the protagonist is what keeps him or her reading. In the prologue of my novel, Magic Bullets, I introduce a killer with an automatic rifle in the hope that in the minds of my readers he hovers in the background like an Angel of Death. It is a device that has probably been used before and I hope it works.
Magic Bullets “angel of death”
Copyright: tiero / 123RF Stock Photo
My novel Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm
There are numerous references to bullets in literature. Silver bullets have been used by the fictional masked western hero, The Lone Ranger, to shoot his armed adversaries without harming them, and by others to kill supernatural werewolves. Other examples can be found in detective novels where forensic ballistic reports often lead to the undoing of many a criminal mastermind.
The German Scientist and physician, Paul Ehrlich, coined the concept of a magic bullet to describe the perfect drug that could selectively target a disease-causing organism without harming the patient. I worked as a professional microbiologist for forty years and had experience of working with different bacteria and antibiotics so I thought it might be an idea to write a story about a scientist who discovered a fictional drug and the effect this had on his life.
Despite the endeavours of scientists such as Ehrlich, drugs are not perfect medicines. I cannot think of one that does not have harmful side effects. Given the fact that some have hallucinatory properties and are addictive, I decided to throw that into the mix as well. There are a lot of references to bullets in literature so as the narrative progressed I thought it might be an idea to link the story with bullets that came from guns and are specifically designed to kill. Whether I succeeded enough in creating an entertaining read is up to the reader to decide.
My novel Magic Bullets can be found at http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm