The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – February 2016

Below are my efforts for the February’s 4 weeks of the 2016 illustration challenge. I seem to have been cutting the deadline pretty tight on these so some were a little rushed but over all I’m pleased with these. The prompts were 1920’s, Printing, Kindergarten and Horizon. As a I mentioned last month, the standard is really high and next month I’m going to add a few of my favourites for the month assuming I get their creators permission.

For any others considering joining in the 52 week illustration challenge or people wanting to see all the images, maybe to source an illustrator, the blog can be found at and the Facebook page at

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells – A Book Review.


I am falling behind in my 1 book a week aim which is a shame. I seem to spend a lot of my days doing jigsaw puzzles, and then as I feel going outside once in a while is healthy, and interacting with real people is necessary, I seem to have used up all my anti-social time. It took far longer than it should have for me to come up with the idea of listening to audiobooks while puzzling. I thoroughly recommend it.

I have managed to read a few books lately though I haven’t posted any reviews in a while as I haven’t had much to say about them. However having recently finished listening to The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, and finding it very different to my expectations, I have decided to recommence the reviews. I have had the audiobook version of The Invisible Man for several years, but haven’t got around to listening to it; the avid readers among you will no doubt understand the nature of a ‘To Be Read’ pile, it works the same with audio books, I seem to gather them faster than I listen to them.

How Out of Control Is Your TBR Pile

The Invisible Man (1897) is one of the most famous sci-fi novels ever. It was written by H. G. wells and has innumerable films, TV series and comics based on it. Wells is also known for The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau which also have various media adaptations. Before listening to the book, this was pretty much all I knew. I had heard of the invisible man in the world of comics and superheroes and I vaguely remembered a film adaptation of The Time Machine that was a fun family friendly adventure. Consequently I was expecting something along those lines with this book; some of you will know that’s not what I got.


I listened to a free audiobook version of The Invisible Man downloaded from Librivox (link here). The narrator (Alex Foster) was fine; I have no criticisms. I have experienced audiobooks that were hugely enhanced by a great reading, this wasn’t one of them, but on the other hand he certainly didn’t detract from the story, he was perfectly listenable, which isn’t always the case with the volunteer lead readings you find on Librivox.

I’m very well behaved when reading or watching sci-fi with respect to the science. I am willing to suspend logic and reality to an extent to allow the authors to create the new world, and in fact I enjoy the logic of the world they create and generally will allow it to stand without question. After all if science could actually do it, it would be reality not sci-fi. I reviewed Replay by Ken Grimwood and touched on The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North last year (link here). In Replay the science isn’t really attempted, and that’s OK, but I was highly impressed with the science element in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August; I’ve yet to come across a better developed sci-fi world. In The Invisible Man Wells has also done a great job of explaining his scientific phenomena with a  reasonable explanation of how to make something invisible, in fact this was one of the most satisfying parts of the book from my point of view.

harry august

Now to the story itself. As I alluded to earlier, The Inivisible Man is not a light fun adventure. It’s not even a slightly sinister or dark superhero book. It’s just dark and angry. The main character, the invisible man himself is called Griffin. When we are introduce to him he seems a rather harsh and grumpy however with my preconceptions I felt there would be reasonable justification for this later on. However as the book proceeds you are lead to like Griffin less and less. I clung on to the hope of a sort of redeemable anti-hero for a while but gave it up on that idea about half way through. Griffin is simply selfish, angry and brutish. You may think that is very well done by the author to build such a dislike about a character particularly when you are predisposed to like them, it must have taken very strong writing to create those emotions and I do agree to a certain extent. Griffin is a well developed character.

The main problem I had with the book is that non of the other characters in the book are particularly developed at all. There isn’t really anyone to like or root for. There is a tramp that is controlled by Griffin for a while. You would think you would feel some sort of support, or liking for the tramp but at most I felt a mild kind of pity. The tramp didn’t really have enough of a sense of character to really be noticed. Later Griffin holes up with an old acquaintance, Kemp, who when he realises Griffin’s brutality and unrelenting drive for complete domination, betrays Griffin to the Police. Griffin being angry at being betrayed and now hunted turns his anger on Kemp with the intent to kill. Even Kemp is hard to care about. I did support him in the sense that your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and Griffin was definitely an enemy by then, but there was very little emotion invoked on behalf of Kemp himself.

Overall I can’t say I liked the book, the writing style with a third person narrator I quite liked, the bits of science used to describe various phenomena were interesting, but without a likable, relate-able or redeemable character in sight it just felt like spending several hours in the company of and angry psychopath.


Daily Doodle – 19 day update (February)

I may not have posted my doodles lately, but I have been drawing them. So now that I have finally got around to getting them onto the computer, here they are. There are a lot of practice collection, cartoon faces, eyes, noses mouths, feet, hands. But also several drawings done as a favour for a friend and a few random sketches that took my fancy. I did manage to end the collection on a splash of colour which I am very pleased about after days of pencil sketches.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned before, but with these and the 52 Week Illustration Challenge entries, I don’t get a re-do. I have one page of my sketch book assigned to the task and I have to make the most of whatever I end up doing; I cant just start a new one if I don’t like. It helps to keep me focused and settle on one image, otherwise I could be forever chasing a better doodle. I just though I’d mention it in case you’ve ever wondered why there are sometimes pictures that don’t quite seem to fit in.

A Rant on Space Exploration

link – I really love this picture.

To become an astronaut seems to be the dream of many young children, I was never one of them. I don’t think it is a bad goal to have, if nothing else it encourage focus at school, specifically in the sciences which being a Geophysicist myself I am naturally biased towards. My issue is that I see actual space exploration as rather pointless, certainly the rockets side of things. I realise there will be many people who totally disagree and think the future is out there and we would be fools to not invest in that research now before it is too late. I think not, I think we have massively got our priorities wrong.

I’ve been pondering why we spend so much on space, what it is we are looking for, why it is important and I’ve come up with a few good reasons. The main reason that I feel is remotely valid is scientific discovery. Who knows what may be out there waiting for us. A new element or at least isotope. A new organism; life outside our planet, maybe even intelligent life. These would be truly useful discoveries. Other discoveries such as evidence of how the universe formed, or the history of a nearby planet I think are less practically useful as it is unlikely they could influence any future advancements but still would satisfy our human need to understand.

Against these I have the age old argument that there is still much we don’t know about our own planet. The Marianas Trench is the deepest place on our earth and there is still much we don’t know about the creatures that live down there. Our own magnetic field has never been fully understood, comparable to a bar magnet on the surface but with many more lobes when considered at depth. Our best technology and interpretations are rife with uncertainties and non-uniqueness problems. The idea that we will better understand the universe when in space verses when on our own planet is not one I find convincing. Copernicus, Kepler and many others since determined a huge amount about space simply by observing from earth, and I really don’t think anything discovered in space can rival their developments. Even the recent discovery of gravitational waves (predicted by Einstein) was discovered from earth.

Another idea that is often mentioned with space exploration is the idea that mankind will one day move from our own planet, into space or to another planet. Many people search space for planets in the ‘goldilocks zone’ (not to hot, not to cold) a planet able to sustain human life. A planet that can be terraformed into our own preferred environment. Finding a place for us to migrate to when our own planet cannot sustain us any longer. With increasing population and diminishing resources I can see why the idea of a nice new planet would appeal.

This is one of the most ridiculous arguments there is as far as I’m concerned. Firstly, when exactly are we expecting to need this, thousands or millions of years in the future, we’ve never bothered thinking that far ahead in terms of saving our own planet or resources. Look at the mess we’re making with energy, determined to invest money in extracting every last drop of non-renewable fuel we can with enhanced recovery, fracing and drilling trickier plays rather than putting more money into developing alternatives. Secondly the distances in space are so vast that reaching them would be highly unlikely, and the planet even still existing is questionable in the time it took for the planets signal to reach us who knows what could have happened to it. Kepler-186f is the closet best candidate for us and that is 490 light years away. Just in case you aren’t aware, that’s 490 times the distance light can travel in a year. It is a very long way and we can’t travel as fast as light. Pretty sure Newton had a theory about that. As a rough indication, the fastest any man has ever travelled is just under 7 miles per second and light travels at just over 186,282 miles per second. At our fastest speed it would take over 13 million years to reach! Call me closed minded, unimaginative or defeatist, but science is never going to overcome that obstacle.

scifi landscape

One of the great advantages of all the money that goes into space exploration is that often there are scientific advancements that can be trickled into other sectors. Of course if the focus had been on simply creating these advancements in the first place it likely would have been more efficient.

space budget

In a nutshell that is my issue with space exploration. It’s nonsensical. I realise in the grand scheme of things the space exploration budget is not completely disproportionate and yet the time, effort and money to send even one person to space verses the reward, is something that boggles my mind. The only real reason I can see for this illogical endeavour is that we are an intrinsically competitive and curious species. We want to be the first, we want to be the best; we want to understand, to have seen, to have conquered. The race for the moon is a classic example, each was desperate to be first but when it was finally reached, there wasn’t really much there. Space is boring, the clue is in the name; it’s pretty much empty. Massive dark empty stretches of nothingness. I just don’t understand the fascination.


Daily Doodle – 8 Day Update (February)

Below are my doodling efforts for the past 8 days. I’m not particularly pleased with the collection overall but there are a few I like.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – January

Below are my efforts for the first 4 weeks of the 2016 illustration challenge. I must admit some of these are a bit half hearted. The standard this year so far has been intimidatingly high.

For any others considering joining in the 52 week illustration challenge or people wanting to see all the images, maybe to source an illustrator, the blog can be found at and the Facebook page at