Monday, 7 December 2015


If, like all right thinking people, you enjoy audio drama you should check out Tumanbay, a new epic fantasy from Radio 4.  Apparently it's hiatorically inspired, the name Tumanbay itself being taken from a sultan, Tuman Bay, who ruled Egypt and Syria.  However, as my knowledge of middle eastern history stops with Cleopatra and starts again post WW1 I can't judge it's accuracy.  Still it's nice to find a new bit of history to potentially learn about. 

I've listened to one episode of the show and it's got off to a strong start.  It's intriguey and satisfyingly brutal, with slavery, torture and fracticide depicted as matter of fact parts of life.  The obvious comparison is with Game of Thrones, especially the politics of Kings Landing and the slave trade of Slavers' Bay.  There's some fairness to that comparison, but the characters are sufficiently different and the historical flavour gives Tumanbay enough of it's own identity to grab my attention.  

Tumanbay has a large cast, especially for radio.  I was worried this might be a problem but there are elements of first person narration that keep the plot easy enough to follow and give an insight into one on the main character's thoughts.  No-one's stolen the show but nobody's spoilt it either (and Alexander Siddig's in it, always nice to see a DS9 alumnus getting work).

I'm on-board, but it's a gritty fantasy audio drama produced by Radio 4 and staring Julien Bashir, I was always going to give it a few episodes.  The beeb have made it available as a podcast with episodes staying up for 30 days so you can listen to it while commuting or while having a walk (like I did).  You can find out more about the show and listen to it here.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Night (Bike) Rider

Guys I had another stupid misadventure. Yesterday I cycled to Selby, I set off at about half past seven, got chips and headed off back at about nine. Just as it was getting dark I remembered that I had no lights. 

I managed to get off the road before it got too dark, so I wasn't worried about cars but I was miles from the nearest street light. The York to Selby cycle track is an old railway line so it's flat and straight, which was fortunate, mostly it was light enough to just about see where I was going but things got pretty pitch black between the trees and "Between the trees" made up about 49% of the journey.

I was torn between going as fast as I could and slowing right down to avoid hitting anything in the gloom. I'd cycled out in the daylight and didn't encounter any major obstacles but I was worried that something could have fallen onto the path in the hours that had passed, a branch or stray stone that could have thrown me from my saddle, or maybe some barbed-wire across the path like in 2001 Maniacs. I opted for speed, hoping that if I got home quicker there'd be less time for something bad to happen to me.  

There were a surprising amount of people about, other night cyclists, an astronomer and multiple dark shapes that could be cats, serial killers or demonic entities. The astronomer was by far the coolest, he had a pretty meaty telescope and was doing everything by red light (which my night vision appreciated). The nerdy part of me wanted to stop and have a chat with him, but nobody appreciates strangers stopping for a chat when it's pitch black in the middle of nowhere.

I was relieved to reach Bishopthorpe and delighted when I reached York, even if I did get a bit confused and end up circling around on myself a few times at the racecourse. Never bet on me at the races, although I suspect I wouldn't be able to out race a horse even if I knew where I was going.  

Fortunately I made it home without being murdered by serial killers, demonic entities or my own stupidity, although I suspect at least one of those will have another try before too long.