Imponderables

Hello all, thanks for clicking through.

Some of you may know that I write science fiction. Sci-fi-lite, one might label it, because there are no futuristic settings, spaceships or alien worlds in my books, though that’s not to say there won’t be in the years to come. Instead, my novels are based in the present day – or within the next ten years, at least – but they take place in hypothetical situations, ones that (hopefully) aren’t accurate. The term “speculative fiction” is probably more appropriate, to be honest.

As an author of such it’s my job to ask questions. Propose theories. Provoke debate. In the SUBNORMAL series, I talk about some pretty serious stuff: corrupt governments; fascist cults; bigoted dictators, but sometimes, my questions and subjects are a little less heavy. The following topics – some of them borrowed from my lead protagonist Paul – are trivia; nevertheless, I will try to find the answers. Perhaps you can help me.

WASPS

drunk wasp

The drunken hooligans of the animal kingdom. They become more aggressive towards the end of summer/autumn; I used to think this was because they were annoyed about winter coming, but the truth is more interesting. As September and October draw in, the wasp’s diet consists mainly of rotting fruit. The fermenting fruit intoxicates the little nuisances, making them more aggressive. Anyway that’s not my point; this is:

What is the point of wasps?

Google/Wikipedia will probably tell me they’re vital parts of the foodchain, but I can’t imagine any function they have which we couldn’t happily live without. I imagine Earth’s other lifeforms don’t really like them, either. They are horrible, vindictive little bastards who will sting you just because they can.

CONCLUSION: Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that she can hurt us at any time for no good reason

FLIES

fly

Continuing the insectoid theme, but a little less subjective. You see a fly, try to swat it (NOTE TO SELF – perhaps wasps sting us to take revenge for all the flies we kill…) and it flees upwards, landing on the ceiling.

At which point did the fly turn so that its feet would attach it to the ceiling?

If it turned just as it was about to upside-down-land, surely the continued buzzing of its wings would drag it back away. And if it stopped flapping just as it was about to attach, wouldn’t it just fall to the floor?

CONCLUSION: Magic

DOGS

dolly blog

Animals again, but this time a little more palatable. Personally, I like dogs. I’m not one of these dog-nuts who invests more emotion in their pooch than their family members, but the canine is one of my favourite creatures. We have a  2 year-old golden Labrador – see above – and she’s the fastest non-race dog (ie greyhound, whippet) on my estate. A fact she proves on a daily basis, as she delights in playing nip/chase with her contemporaries. However, adorable as they might be, our furry friends aren’t perfect.

Why are dogs so contrary?

Dolly loves going for a run. She bounds about when I pull on my shoes, enthusiasm personified. Yet she knows that to go out, she has to wear a lead/leash. It’s non-negotiable. Does she welcome the lead, knowing that its attachment enables her freedom (I only walk her on it for a couple of minutes until we get to the field, then she can roam untethered)? No, she squirms and fusses, thereby delaying our progress. Most animals are simple; they do what they need to do to make themselves happy/fed/mated. Not the dog.

CONCLUSION: Dogs are man’s best friend. Perhaps they have learnt some of our nonsensical ways as a result

COFFEE

starbucks

Specifically, the takeaway type you get on the high-street. Is there a higher profit-margin item in the world? How do they get away with selling a couple of pence worth of beans, sugar and milk for close to £4? And why do people buy it, daily, spending a significant portion of their wages when they could make some at home and bring it in a flask?

CONCLUSION: The human race is doomed

THE RAIN/TIME CONTINUUM

stressed desserts

I’m going to finish with the hardest of the lot. You’re driving. Rain starts to fall; you switch on your windscreen wipers. Pretty mundane stuff, I agree. However, ask yourself this:

Have you just driven into an area where it was already raining? Or, has it just started raining where you are? 

I have tormented myself with this dilemma for the last ten years (since I started driving, in fact), and I have come to the following shaky conclusion:

It could be either

Hardly ground-breaking, I know, but it’s the best I can do. Is there a way of finding out? Probably. As soon as the rain starts to fall, I could pull over, turn around, and head back the way I’ve come, hence discovering whether it is raining in my previous location. Yet there’s a snag. It might be raining there, too. Then I’ll be presented with the same question: has it just started raining during my absence, or had it already started raining there, as well? Walkie-talkies and a willing assistant might help, but my wife is a no-nonsense woman, and I am time-poor as it is.

CONCLUSION: It could be either (sorry – I’ll get round to testing it one day)

These answers may all be wrong. Feel free to put me right, and post your own imponderables.

The first of many?

Welcome to my inaugural blog post. In fact, aside from my brief contributions via social media, this is the first time I have spoken to the world, as it were. So thanks for sharing the moment with me.

Of course, I’d love to be able to promise an entertaining, witty monologue; one which you’ll recommend to friends and colleagues. However, I have no reason to believe you’ll even read beyond this sentence. After all, what do I have to say that will distinguish me from the countless other authors blogging every day? Probably nothing, but if you bear with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my debut offering.

Why have I decided to create my own site and write this rambling piece? Because, in all honesty, it’s the done thing. I have no idea whether it will actually help me win friends, influence people, or ‘grow my brand’ – whatever that means. Yet the perceived logic is that having a website is beneficial for any aspiring author, as it is for any business owner. Because, let’s face it: that’s what most of us are here for. Sure, writing feels great; it’s cathartic, exhilarating and empowering. But would we put ourselves through the agonies of rewriting and proofreading if we didn’t have that tiniest modicum of hope that it might lead to something bigger?

When I first finished my first book, SUBNORMAL, I was presumptuous enough to think I was on the verge of such greatness. The naïve, idealistic me believed I stood a chance of obtaining a literary agent. “My book is really good,” I told myself, with more than a little conceit. “It’s different; it says something about the world we live in, and it’s an enjoyable read.” My family and friends had told me the same and, uncharacteristically for a natural pessimist like me, I had high hopes.

These were quickly dashed by a raft of maddeningly vague query-rejections, and I chose to self-publish. Against my better judgment, I assumed the world would lap up my humble scribblings, and was disheartened by the deafening silence of apathy. As Edmund Blackadder (see below) might say, my sales were slower than an asthmatic ant carrying heavy shopping.

Me after my 5th draft

Once I’d come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t be driving an Audi RS6 or living in an acre of land in the countryside, I scoured the web for advice to help my efforts. “Use Facebook and Twitter,” I was told. “Reach out to fellow authors.” “Speak publicly about your work and your cause.” With a heavy heart, I complied.

I say this because, by nature, I am an introvert. I keep myself to myself. Not quite anti-social per se, but I’ll often risk involvement in a road traffic accident to cross the road to avoid an awkward meeting with a person I’ve not spoken to for a while. Seriously.

This flightless bird is less socially awkward than me

Five years ago, not long after my son was diagnosed as autistic, I underwent testing for Asperger’s Syndrome. I’d always exhibited tendencies, and the knowledge that Autistic Spectrum Disorders are often inherited meant I wanted to know if I was the root cause of my child’s condition. Partly due to reasons with which I won’t bore you, I was (wrongly, in my opinion) judged not to be on the autistic spectrum.

Why am I telling you this? Is it an attempt at an endearing, X Factor/Pop Idol-style sob story?

Do people still fall for this shit?

Absolutely not. There are people who suffer greatly with autism, Asperger’s and other forms of ASD – like my son – and they are the ones who deserve sympathy. Any minor symptoms I exhibit haven’t stopped me from living an independent life with a wonderful wife and two beautiful children.

The reason I’m divulging this insight is so that my readers can understand why I write what I write. Also, my self-published contemporaries might appreciate why I’m a little more taciturn than the average independent writer, and why I’ve decided to donate some of my meagre earnings to charity.

Whether I have an official label or not, engaging with strangers – or even acquaintances – doesn’t sit well with me. Or, at least, it didn’t. Nevertheless, against my natural inclinations, I plunged into the online netherworld of indie authors, and I haven’t looked back since. There are some wonderful people out there who have been very accommodating to a “noob” like me, and if any of them are reading, I’d like to say “thanks.”

One of the pieces of advice I was happier to take was “keep writing,” and I finished my second novel, SUPERNORMAL, eight months after the first was published. Though I went years after graduating from university without putting pen to paper, the thought of stopping now fills me with dismay. I finished editing SUPERNORMAL just a few weeks ago, and have been spending the last month promoting both books. But I can already feel the gnawing itch inside, urging me to start again.

“So,” you might say, “what is the point? Why have I just wasted a few precious minutes reading this random blokes ruminations?”

In short, I was a reluctant indie. Now I’m not. The joys of seeing good reviews, of being contacted by readers gushing about my work, of helping other authors have compensated somewhat for my rejection by traditional publishing. It won’t take me from 0-60 in four seconds like an RS6, or stop the next door neighbours nagging about my son’s more objectionable behaviours, but it means people on the other side of the world will see my work, a luxury I wouldn’t have enjoyed ten or twenty years ago.

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment if you have time!

Reviews

SUBNORMAL – 4.7 stars from 23 reviews

5 stars – The most worthwhile and gripping book I have read in a long time

Read S. Kenyon’s compelling dystopia and you will never drink tap water again. Because you can get more than is good for you with it. And it can be more fiendishly oppressive than the overt brute force of communist tanks. You thought the nanny state was bad, but wait until it becomes a tool in the hands of a megalomaniac of a mother with a Nazi penchant for human perfection. Under the guise of resolving the ills of capitalism, such as unemployment, and the shortfalls of democracy, caused by social welfare, immigration, aging population, she dreams up a much more devastating weapon than insidious political correctness, Goebbels’ stark propaganda, and even Stalinist fear to deprive people of the very thought of freedom and human dignity. Liberty, equality, fraternity – the much-abused magical formula of democracy – experiencing the ultimate annihilation of all its parts.
How vindicating it is then, that the perceived misfits of society, those labelled “subnormal” for being physically weakened, or mentally different, or rejecting unquestioned authority, should rise up to overthrow this paralysing tyranny. The so-called weaknesses of the main characters – an Aspergers young man and his injured brother, a young depressed single mother, a disobedient soldier and an idealistic politician – make them more likeable and effective than super-heroes…

5 stars – Just click ‘buy’

A very interesting read. Mind-opening for the uninitiated in terms of autism, revelatory as a ‘what if?’ piece of literature. Is fascism often too subtle to spot when you are involved in it? Highly recommended.

5 stars – Five Stars

really enjoyed it, finished it within the weekend couldn’t put it down. looking forward to reading the sequel.

5 stars – Five Stars

Excellent read. Kept me gripped from start to finish. A talent to watch out for.

5 stars – A gripping plot, and written with valuable and touching insight

Subnormal is a very compelling read, painting a vivid dsytopian world filled with believeable, relatable characters. The hero, a young male with Aspergers, is written with valuable and touching insight. The sensitivity here is key. Unlike the Rosie Project’s Don Tillman, the hero here has an in-depth, believeable charactisation.

The plot is gripping, full of action and with a grim reality that isn’t that hard to imagine.

Yet what is the most beautiful about this book is that everyone here is unique, and a society that forgets to acknowledge that is one that is hugely damaging. Neurodiversity is an issue very close to my heart and I’m very keen to see the sequel!

4 stars – The revolution will not be televised

In the not so distant future ugly secrets lie at the heart of the British establishment. The country’s disturbing fate depicted in Subnormal is all too easy to believe because being lied to and manipulated by governments is a daily occurrence in almost any country you pick off a world map these days. In a very Orwellian manner Mr. Kenyon takes a shot at painting a picture of what we might be in for should politicians not be kept in check by the press and the people they are supposed to represent, and hits the bullseye. It is disarmingly realistic and a gripping read from the very first page.

5 stars – Love to read? Love SUBNORMAL

Don’t normally read fictional books these days but had this recommended by a friend. And my word, how glad I did! From the first chapter I was hooked, and the unpredictability of the storyline kept me reading on. Although it is fictional, there’s a scary hint of realism of how a tyrannical government could actually turn this country upside down. Every chapter as good as the last culminating in a spectacular finale. Highly recommended to anyone, and if there’s one thing I’m certain of, you will not be disappointed.

5 stars – A brilliant debut novel!

I loved the original writing style! The characters were believable and well researched. I especially liked that of Paul Kelly, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. This was written with obvious empathy for people on the Autistic Spectrum, and indeed I believe the author is donating a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of this book to a charity involved in providing support to children with Autism.
I look forward to a sequel!

5 stars – Outstanding!

This book is simply outstanding. Beautifully and intelligently written with rich interesting characters. It was fast paced towards the end and I really could not put it down. Ending left me wanting a bit but am hoping that means there will be a sequel. You simply must read this book!

5 stars – Each chapter more enticing than the last

Interesting plot, love how the plot develops. Found it, very gripping and could not put it down. How dare you leave us with such a cliff hanger?

4 stars – Terrifying, disturbing, utterly compelling

A frightening portrayal of what Britain could be like in the wrong hands. The plot builds expertly, the characters provoke sympathy and contempt in equal measure. I found it hard to put the book down.

5 stars – A great first book – keen to read more.

Some very interesting ideas and thoughts and possibly an expansion and reference to present day public apathy. I found the book followed themes set by Jon Ronson, and kept me surprised enough to keep wondering what would happen next – and keen to read more. I was gripped from the very first page.

I look forward to reading more from the author, this book will give me plenty to think about in the future when watching political and world events.

5 stars – Surprisingly good read

It was quite good, which was pleasantly unexpected. Sometimes when you pick up a book someone has recommended it turns out to be nothing more than pretentious dribble. That wasn’t the case.

5 stars – nice one

really enjoyed this book. well written and a good plot. waiting for the next one.

5 stars – Five Stars

Excellent story. A must read

4 stars – Four Stars

Made interesting reading

5 stars – Five Stars

really good read

4 stars – UK Distopian

An interesting premise and well written.
Loads of great twists and turns. Enjoyable read and was a refreshing change to have a book set in the UK.

5 stars – Thought provoking and entertaining, Sci-fi adventure!

Subnormal by Stuart Kenyon, like an onion, has many layers. First is the gripping tale of a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome, the protagonist, who is marginalized by a self-righteous female megalomaniac, the antagonist. Next is, a Sci-fi adventure with a stark commentary on today’s society that heralds the all-star athlete and the glamour queen as the hero’s of today’s shallow society. Still Kenyon goes deeper into myriad of new diagnosis’s being developed everyday, but he doesn’t stop at the psychological problems that people have, he also delves into the physical dysfunctions too, raising the question who is to determine a person’s worth.

I once read that the Native American tribes of North America were all inclusive and those that were considered different in the tribe were thought to be divine and given leniency to wholly be themselves, completely. I always thought that this was a beautiful and necessary component to any society. Every person has a purpose and a place. Every person is treated with respect and accepted.

Sadly, this is not the case in this Sci-fi adventure! Kenyon is saying that no one can possibly know anyone’s full potential and those that are marginalized can quite pleasantly surprise those of us who aren’t marginalized.

There is so much more that this thought provoking thesis has brought out, but I fear creating spoiler alerts! I want you to read the book and enjoy making your own discoveries.

I had a rough start to the book finding the text awkward at times. This might be an American versus British English colloquialisms challenge; some chapters were a bit choppy, while other chapters were simply brilliant and text flowed freely!

The story line is original, the character development complete, the action driven plot interesting and the conclusion fulfilling, but there is a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

5 stars – A gripping plot, and written with valuable and touching insight

Subnormal is a very compelling read, painting a vivid dsytopian world filled with believeable, relatable characters. The hero, a young male with Aspergers, is written with valuable and touching insight. The sensitivity here is key. Unlike the Rosie Project’s Don Tillman, the hero here has an in-depth, believeable charactisation.

The plot is gripping, full of action and with a grim reality that isn’t that hard to imagine.

Yet what is the most beautiful about this book is that everyone here is unique, and a society that forgets to acknowledge that is one that is hugely damaging. Neurodiversity is an issue very close to my heart and I’m very keen to see the sequel!

5 stars – Omg Moment

Stuart Kenyon has written a great book! I do not give away plots. However, in this case, I’ll say this. The characters are amazing. The story is frightening in the fact that it could easily happen. The drugging of the populace, and the collective who take over while enslaving a specific group of people makes this book too realistic, and not at all unbelievable that it could happen. Great job, Stuart! LK Kelley – Author

3 stars – 3.5 out of 5 stars! The ending left me glowing!

Take a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, he and his loving brother are thrust into a work camp; reminiscent of Nazi controlled Europe.
Travel back in time to a brilliant young chemist who is developing drugs for mind control.
Jump forward to the recent past and witness the birth of a seemingly benign totalitarian government. The populous is afraid, unemployment and crime are high. A small time politician is extremely uncomfortable with the politics as his party rises to ascendancy in modern England.
These are the high points of the plot, there are several smaller subplots also.

While seeming to be irreconcilable, these plots and subplots are woven into a fascinating tale. Mr. Kenyon has brought us an interesting angle to the typical dystopian future story.

I have to say that learning about Asperger’s through Paul’s eyes was very rewarding.

However, with so many threads to pull, I was not surprised that the pace of the book was up at times and down at others. I understand that you cannot have a breakneck speed constantly, but there were several spots that were dragging quite a bit. To be fair, the rest of the book flowed quite well.
There were quite a few spelling errors, not the type where it is a British spelling as opposed to American. I am talking about misplaced words, missing words, and the occasional multiple words. As if there were some words left from an incomplete edit of a sentence.

To sum up: I enjoyed the story even though the ride was pretty bumpy at times,
a lot of potholes in the road. I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. If the spelling had been a lot cleaner it would have been a higher score.

This is definitely a good read. The ending left me glowing!

5 stars – Five Stars

An excellent read from start to finish.

SUPERNORMAL – unrated